We’ve all got clothes that we don’t wear anymore, many of which are still in great condition. Instead of throwing them away or going through the hassle of selling them online, why not swap for a new outfit? I recently attended a clothes swap event held outside Almang Market at Seoul Station. It was an easy, eco-friendly way to trade in the clothes I don’t wear for some new threads!
Almang Market is an eco shop started by 3 young women who met at an environmental protest in Seoul. Their goal was to make eco-living accessible to the average consumer, especially as eco clothing brands, for instance, are far too expensive for most of us. There are 2 Almang Market branches, the main store/re-fill station in Mangwon-dong and their newly-launched Re-Station at Seoul Station — the ‘re-‘ standing for reduce, reuse and recycle.
At both branches you can donate plastic lids, silicon, drink cartons, crayon chunks, shoe laces, mesh packaging and even stale coffee grounds! However, its at the new Re-Station that we see this trash upcycled into treasures.
Hidden away on the 4th floor and rooftop garden of Seoul Station, Almang Market boasts a healing natural environment. The re-station features a cafe and outdoor terrace, from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of Seoul city centre. Moreover, the park can be accessed via the Seoullo 7017 botanical promenade.
Whether you’re visiting for the event or on an ordinary day, be sure to bring a tumbler for the cafe! During my visit, I enjoyed an iced floral tea and purchased a new roll-up carrier for the cutlery I bring to work each day. Of course, I whipped out my trusty reusable straw too!
You can bring a maximum of 5 clothing items with you to the swap. They should be clean and in good condition.
Once I arrived, I was directed to the first preparation table, where I was given special cards to fill out for each of my items. The cards were really cute, designed for you to tell the story of your item, including where you got it, why you bought it and why you were giving it away. You can even write a final message to the item itself; most people wrote “잘 가” (jal-ga) which means ‘goodbye’.
I attached the cards to individual hangers, from which I hung my items. I was guided to the next table, where a member of staff provided me with 5 clothing tickets, 1 for each garment I was donating. Each ticket was worth 1 clothing item of my choice.
Then, I hung my clothes up on the designated rails and began browsing. It was quite funny, when I was hanging my items on the rails, people were following me with anticipation to see what I’d brought.
Within a few minutes, I had already found items I loved, including a genuine Elle blazer and a gorgeous burgundy turtleneck jumper, perfect for winter. Furthermore, it was really satisfying to see fellow swappers head home with the clothes I’d donated. It was a far more exciting experience than listing them online.
“Goodbye! Navy jacket. I met you 4 years ago at a department store and bought you for a job interview. I wore you once but you didn’t fit me well, so I let you go. Goodbye!”
“Goodbye! Red knit. I met you in 2019 at UNIQLO and bought you because you looked warm. I wore you 3 times but it was hot, so I let you go. Please be loved at Christmas!”
The event also featured a Brita filter hacking workshop*, where you could transform your discarded filter cartridges into reusable ones! The process involves drilling a hole into the filter, which is then sealed with a removable cap. Through this hole, you can replenish the filter with new filter granules e.g. carbon ions, charcoal remnants as needed.
What’s more, the staff successfully campaigned for industrial reuse and recycling of filters at Brita Korea, who promise to implement these changes in 2021.
** Filter hacking workshop run at designated event times only. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-hacked filters in-store at Almang Market, or >> hack your own at home <<
Almang Market Re-Station Address: Rooftop Garden, Floor 4 Seoul Station, 405 Hangangdae-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul Operating Hours: 3:00pm - 10:00pm Tues - Sun, closed Mon Directions: Seoul Station (Subway Line 1, 4, Airport Railroad) Exit 1. Head up the escalators until you reach the entrance to the Lotte Outlets. Turn right towards the Lotte Mart and take the escalator on your left. Go up one flight of the stairs in front of you and cross the 4th Floor parking lot to reach the rooftop garden and Almang Market.
The staff at Almang Market are always kind, helpful and they are clearly passionate about the zero waste lifestyle. If you are new to it all, they are guaranteed to make you feel welcomed. The clothes swap event was carried out well and the ticket system ensured that people could only reuse as much as they were willing to recycle. They also sold cakes and other treats!
I’m so happy to call one of the founders, Kumsook, my friend and enjoy visiting the Mangwon branch once a week to make my donations and stock up on the essentials. Kumsook hopes to host another clothes swap event soon, COVID-19 and weather permitting.