Closet Swap marks 5th year of giving and shopping frenzy

October 21st, 2011
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Nadine Kam photos

The Class of …? Women in “Super Hero or Super Villain” guise, dressed in a mixture of clothing, newspapers and magazines in an attempt to beat fellow competitors to be first to enter Closet Swap Oct. 16.

Women came wearing heels and carrying big bags to the annual Fashionista’s Market Closet Swap at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii on Oct. 16. The event’s 5th anniversary was the biggest yet, drawing double the usual number of attendees, at 260, which may be also be a sign of the tough economic times, pushing more to swap their old clothes for something new- or at least new to them.

The 260 women generally donated 9,298 pieces of clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories to the event, with women able to pick up as many pieces as they contributed. Sandra Fernandez won a prize for most contributions, at 169 pieces.

The event raised funds for the Leeward Domestic Abuse Shelter, and garments remaining after the event are also donated to the shelter.


Fashionista’s Market’s Anita Clemente, left, and Alyssa Fung presided over the festivities, with tears at times as they spoke about the specter of domestic violence and all the good carried out by organizations such as the Leeward Domestic Abuse Shelter that was the beneficiary of the day’s events.

Some of the oversize T-shirt donations were picked up by local designer Cassandra Rull, who was standing by with her sewing machine to transform them into prettier wearables. Those first to her table were able to pick out the best designs. She transformed a Hope for Japan T-shirt into a cute halter dress for me. It’s amazing how fast she worked, and that she was able to accommodate all who were interested.

At the opposite end of the table, jewelry designer Kihwa Kwon Gosline of Studio Bijoux Hawaii was helping women to transform their old jewelry into new pieces. For those who hadn’t brought anything, she was designing new jewelry on the spot, with findings and pieces from costume jewelry.

After a fortifying breakfast of fruit, scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage and rice, the women were ready for action. But first, there was a contest to see just who would be able to enter the swap first for, presumably, the best stuff.

This year’s contest was to dress one person at each table as a Super Hero or Super Villain. Of course most, if not all, the women opted to be Super Heroes, whether a super mom or super fashionista aiming to rid the world of bad fashion. I was one of four judges, and it’s always such a tough call because there’s so much energy and enthusiasm that goes into creating the costumes with a few pieces of clothing, newspapers and magazine pages. This year, judges opted for the cleaner, tailored look of winners I know only as “Bang Bang” and “Immaculate Designer Girl.”

The women at both their tables were allowed 5 minutes early entry to the sale, before maximum craziness ensued.

Friends could pose for photos in the Kreative Photo Booth. At one point, I saw more than 10 women emerge at once.

Kihwa Kwon Gosline created a jewelry piece for Cassie Saylor.

Women lined up to have a piece of clothing refashioned for them by Cassandra Rull, whose creations can be found at Fashionista’s Market.

Cassandra examines a shirt before starting on a piece for Kathleen Min, left, and another Closet Swapper.

In creating their Superheroes, many of the women started with the head sash.

Another work in progress.

Almost finished.

Winning look No. 1.

Winning look No. 2.

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