Wardrobe-Swapping Sale Is The New Sinterklaas Tradition
By Lisa Green
“Love It or Swap It” sounds like the name of one of those reality shows on TLC. On Bravo, it might be called “The Women of Rhinebeck Who Created a Clothing Swap to Benefit Sinterklaas.”
Fortunately for shoppers looking for a good deal on better clothing and accessories, the swap won’t be on TV but will be live and in the Rural Intelligence region. The “Love It or Swap It” concept is ingenious and eco-friendly: you simply bring in the clothes you no longer want, pay your donation and go home with an equal number of items. All the money raised goes to Sinterklaas, the Dutch-based, Rhinebeck-embellished holiday festival that villagers rally around every holiday season. The sale will be held on Sunday, May 31 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Primrose Hill School.
The upscale swap event started five years ago when a group of women met at a “Green Eileen” event sponsored by designer Eileen Fisher; it’s a recycled clothing program that generates income-supporting programs to improve the lives of women and girls. The Rhinebeck ladies borrowed the fundraising elements of that concept when they created the “Love It or Swap It!” Fundraiser Clothing Swap. Lindy Wright, with a background in fashion and sales (25 years as a merchant and human resources director Saks Fifth Avenue in Atlanta, 20 years in her own antiques business) opened her home to the first swappers, and for the three years of swaps that followed.
“We moved furniture and bought a bunch of racks,” Wright recalls. “It started out kind of small, but got bigger and bigger. People were lined up outside my house, and would just hang around and be social. After four years, it’s outgrown my house. My husband is thrilled.”
This year, the sale has been moved to the Primrose Hill School across from the Dutchess County fairgrounds. Along with everyone’s sartorial contributions (which often include Eileen Fisher, Prada, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs, among other designers), a separate vendor, SINTERStore, will be selling items donated by local shops. Think Coach handbags, jewelry, Ferragamo shoes and gift certificates.
Now that they’re not limited to a living room and guest bedroom, organizers Wright, Joanne Gelb, Jill Lundquist and Diana Devlin have expanded the activities of the day. Shoppers can avail themselves of 15-minute chair massages by a licensed massage therapist, tarot card readings from an intuitive soul coach and haircuts by a stylist from NYC. A modest charge for these services benefits Sinterklaas. There will be a room to try on clothing a la the old Loehmann’s dressing rooms, where nothing says community better than others opining “yea” or “nay.”
Leftover clothing is distributed to various thrift stores.
“Love It or Swap It” Women’s Clothing Swap to benefit Sinterklaas
Sunday, May 31 from noon to 4 p.m.; $20 donation.
Primrose Hill School, 6571 Springbrook Ave., Route 9, Rhinebeck, NY
Read our story about Sinterklaas.