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ReFashioner turns swapping into shopping

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If you think your walk-in closet has eventually turned into a high-class garbage bin for couture that you’ve promised you’ll never wear another time, think again. And if you are under the impression that swap meets (the only event where you could dispose of them in exchange for different clothes) now only apply to Tupperware parties and Louis Vuitton knockoffs, then we’d have to ask you to reconsider that opinion.

Word has literally gone around the world about US-based ReFashioner, a curated, invitation-only fashion swapping site which is planned to go live online very soon. La Moda Editor-in-Chief Jim Joquico rendezvoused with Kate Sekules, President of Refashioner, to chat about the concept and the inspirations of yet another stab at digitising age-old fashion traditions – this time it’s recycling.

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How does Refashioner work, exactly? You get your own “closet” upon joining, to which you can upload your clothes. All items that have been uploaded to your closet are subject to approval from our Fashion Police, who accept or reject them, and then set a price on your clothes. Once you accept the prices that we have set, the clothes then go into your closet and become viewable for other members to shop.

You get half the value of your spend which you spend as you shop around other closets on Refashioner. The other half will be released to your accoun when someone gets your piece. You pay an administrative fee of $5 everytime you purchase something from our website.

How is an online “swap meet” going to be different from a traditional real-life one? Using our system, swapping gets transformed into shopping. (I gotta admit, shopping does sound more fun.)

What inspired you to set up Refashioner? I was Editor-in-Chief of a magazine that folded. I thought my industry’s dying, and I need to do something else. I also like turnover in my wardrobe, but have to stop shopping. I have so much great stuff that should get worn by someone.

In addition, trying to get enough of the relevant women into the same room at the same time for a live swap was a losing battle.

Why is this is an invitation-only “club”? What criteria do you base acceptance of applications on? The ReFashioner appreciates great design and invests in her wardrobe. I feel there are plenty of ways to recycle your H&M, but this is for the pieces that are too fabulous or valuable to just give to the Goodwill. If you’re applying without an invitation, tell us a little about yourself – and your wardrobe! Which designers do you collect or adore? What kind of pieces do you want to rehome?

So you are going to accept only high-fashion items? It’s about quality and good design. Fashion is fickle; directional looks date fast. We’re looking for a range – classic, vintage, avant garde – even the best of Topshop might qualify. Each garment is rated on its own merits.

Would something like this work on men too? Absolutely! I’m constantly getting pestered by men (about clothes swapping). We have a thousand plans for the future; this is a big one. Personally, I know a lot about women’s fashion, but I don’t get menswear detail enough to get it right. We’ll be hiring a menswear maven in due course.

Since you’re initially going to cover just the US and the UK, how long do you think it will take before fashionistas in Dubai can join in on the fun? I hope not too long! In the meantime, please pop an email to with Dubai in the subject line and tell us why you need us!

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