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What’s your style: stories from a Radstorm clothing swap

Reflecting on the clothes people wear

5 min read
caption People quietly pick through the piles of clothes at Radstorm's clothing swap on Saturday.
Jennifer Lee

Small mountains of old shirts, worn pants and used accessories were scattered throughout Radstorm, a community art collective in Halifax, on Saturday.

The venue on Almon Street held its first clothing swap where thrifty urbanites could trade or donate old clothes. The swap provided an opportunity for many to purge unwanted garments and sample styles from other closets.

The Signal went to the clothing swap and chatted with people about what they like to wear.

“I have a lot of different styles,” said Sabrina Keyes, a Dalhousie University student who was at the swap. “I wear anything between goth to hippie-like. A lot of the time I just wake up feeling happy so I’ll wear colourful stuff — or sweatpants. “

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caption Sabrina Keyes
Jennifer Lee

Lexi Thackray, a friend of Keyes and a classical voice student at Dalhousie, said practicality is important in her wardrobe. 

“I wear the same shoes non-stop,” said Thackray. “I only have the one pair and I never wear anything else.”

caption Lexi Thackray
Jennifer Lee

Function is important with any garment, especially for Inkstorm, a screen printing collective, member Hennah Verhoeven.

“If something doesn’t have pockets, I will make pockets for it,” said Verhoeven. “I love mending things. Patching. Darning. Anything to keep my favourite things alive as long as possible.”

caption Hennah Verhoeven
Jennifer Lee

Yoga instructor Heather Langille was at the swap and provided some insight on why clothes are so important to us. 

“Clothes: they’re everything; they’re what brings you in and out the door,” she said. “It’s a connection piece to people; it’s a first impression.”

caption Heather Langille
Jennifer Lee

Langille said clothes should say something about who a person is. For some, clothing represents personal triumphs.

“I feel like I enjoy wearing clothes a lot more now because I’ve recently just lost a bunch of weight,” said Sahara May, a 20-year-old Dalhousie student. “I’ve struggled with weight issues for a long period of time and I just felt really self-conscious in everything I wore up until recently.”

caption Sahara May
Jennifer Lee

For Emma Davis, the piles of clothes at Radstorm represented new opportunities.

“I’m still getting into it,” said Davis, a transgender woman who began transitioning in the fall. Davis, who was joined by friend Cory Annett, was shopping for a new summer wardrobe.

caption Cory Annett (left) and Emma Davis (right)
Jennifer Lee

“We’re coming out and trying to find her some summer clothes for her first femme clothing,” said Annett. Saturday was the first time Annett and Davis met in person after meeting on Facebook. Both are from Halifax. 

Many of those at the swap are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and have to deal with societal pressures around gendered wardrobes.  

“For a long time I wasn’t comfortable in the clothes I was in,” said Charlotte Scromeda, a third-year student at the University of King’s College. “It’s kind of hard to realize you’re putting a performance on for everybody else and realize you’re doing it so people like you.”

caption Charlotte Scromeda
Jennifer Lee

“I don’t like looking like a boy,” said Steph Alexander. “I’m like somewhere on that middle ground. I wear a lot of black. Most women’s clothes fit so much better anyway.”

caption Steph Alexander
Jennifer Lee

Inclusive spaces like the clothing swap at Radstorm is what Peter MN loves about Halifax. After a period of globe-trotting, MN is excited to call Halifax home again. 

caption Peter MN
Jennifer Lee

“I’m very fortunate that in Halifax the feedback is amazing if someone with a more masculine body wears more feminine clothes,” said MN.

caption This was Radstorm’s first clothing swap. The organizer, Alex Lush, said it was a success.
Jennifer Lee

The remaining clothes will be donated to various women’s shelters, said Radstorm member and swap organizer, Alex Lush.

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