As all parents know, children’s clothing is both costly and short-lived, as especially in the younger years they grow out of clothes very fast.
Some parents are lucky enough to get well-maintained hand-me-downs from close family and friends, others reuse clothes from an older child; but many have to keep spending on year-round wardrobes filled with items that sometimes are worn no more than three times.
Enter Swaplanet, a brand-new initiative Made in Greece by Egyptian Sherif Barakat in collaboration with English-Lebanese, Greek-raised Jimmy Nicolaides and Greek Helena Stamou that launched in June 2021. The business is an online platform swaplanet that works in the following way: after signing up, the member receives one or two bags by courier that they then fill with used children’s clothing they’re interested in swapping.
The clothing has to be in good to perfect condition and washed. Then a Swaplanet courier will pick it up and the member is nominated a certain number of planets, or points (each planet is worth one euro), depending on how many of the clothes items sent are selected for swapping on the platform.
Using these planets, the member can go through the platform’s clothes selection and choose whatever items they like, ordering them using their planets and extra money. The selected clothes are couriered to the member at lightning speed (the following day!) and are in ready-to-wear condition. “The clothes are washed and each item is carefully looked at for any kind of faults (tears, stains, etc) so that when you receive it you can put it on your child straight away,” says Swaplanet CEO Bakarat.
“This idea came about from a direct need that my wife and I felt we had,” says Barakat, who moved here with his Greek wife and two children. Upon moving here, he forged an immediate connection in October 2020 with like-minded Stamou and Nicolaides, all with very different backgrounds yet sharing the same objective of wanting to create a business project that gives back to and provides for society.
“My wife and I had a daughter and she was pregnant with our son, and were thinking about all the things we need to buy! We thought there must be a better way, maybe a way that we could swap all those clothes we have from our daughter for clothes we can use for our son. We were thinking of the problematic nature of fast fashion, which is even worst for kids clothes because they have an even briefer use. So, we thought of the Swaplanet idea, which instantly ticked all the boxes, and even included the idea that whatever clothes would be sent in for swapping that were not acceptable could be given to children’s charities and NGOs or recycled and upcycled. So really, reaching a zero-waste solution.”
After conducting several surveys to establish people’s ideas and needs regarding their idea, they came up with a complete plan both for their company and for its services. “We have launched in Greece and our plan is to start expanding to two countries per year. Swaplanet has already become a great success, as a process of clothes exchange that has existed between friends and family has now become a wider process of making use of clothing that would otherwise end up in the back of a wardrobe or worse, discarded. The convenience of the service, together with the way it offers to socially disadvantaged Greek and migrant children while also having a positive environmental impact, makes it widely appealing.”
Swaplanet has ambitious expansion plans; they will soon be adding children’s shoes to the site, and next will add toys and books. Eventually, they intend to add adult clothing and accessories as well, and all the while to keep expanding their project globally. Meanwhile, they are already collaborating with NGOs and environmental organisations in Greece and soon abroad, to promote social and environmental initiatives.
Recently the Swaplanet team made physical contact with their existing and new customers by participating in the Meet Market event hosted by the City of Athens’ Technopolis cultural complex, on 16-17 October. “Our aim was first to meet our customers in person, to enhance their trust in our brand, and secondly to create brand awareness to more people, to showcase the high quality and variety of our second-hand clothing and of course to give them the opportunity to swap their clothes and buy new sets on the spot,” says Stamou. “One of our visitors couldn’t believe that the clothing we were exhibiting was second-hand! Another one came from Agios Stefanos to downtown Athens, just to meet with the Swaplanet team and to use her credit on the spot by choosing the next set of clothing for her children. We were both honoured and moved by this gesture, validating the positive impact to a large community of parents sharing our vision for sustainability.”