Swap-A-Palooza downtown celebrates sustainable fashion

YOUNGSTOWN — Amid the rustic warehouse of the Penguin City Brewery in Youngstown, the inaugural Swap-A-Palooza was hosted Saturday, celebrating sustainable fashion and community spirit while embracing the ethos of rewear, reuse and circularity.

Allison Green, a member of The Neighborhood, the organization behind the event, highlighted the unique blend of fashion and environmental awareness that defines Swap-A-Palooza.

She explained that aside from vendors selling vintage items, the event also featured a clothing swap setup, allowing for donations of books and clothing for all ages, sizes and genders.

Green said, “If you bring a pair of jeans, you could swap it for a book or swap it for a jacket. So all the swapping items are one to one. And we just ask people to bring items that you would let a friend borrow.”

As attendees mingled among the curated selection of upcycled vendors, Green hoped their message resonated with that lively atmosphere of visitors — that human hands are behind every fabric they shop for.

“It’s not a machine that makes our clothing, they’re made by garment workers so when you buy a $5 t-shirt, that person that made that piece of clothing is not making a livable wage,” Green said. “So next time when they buy something new, I want them to think where did this come from and when they discard clothing, be mindful of where it’s going.”

Green said that cast aside clothing often ends up in a landfill or shipped overseas, noting that 184 billion pounds of clothing are discarded each year globally.

Any leftover items from the event will find a new lease on life through donation to the Warren Family Mission, ensuring that the spirit of giving continues beyond the event’s confines, Green said.

But Swap-A-Palooza wasn’t just about shopping and swapping. It was an educational experience inviting attendees to delve deeper into the world of sustainable fashion. Interactive tables offered insights into mending techniques, natural dyeing processes and other innovative practices, empowering individuals to become stewards of their own wardrobes. Through workshops and demonstrations, participants learned not only how to extend the lifespan of their garments, but also how to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship behind each piece.

The workstation of Brittany Dobish, of Canal Fulton, would give you a window into her dedication to history and heritage.

She was on-site allowing attendees to sit down with her to learn crocheting, something she has been doing for the past 10 years. Her table featured items she made, including pansy bags, items she made for loved ones, and more sentimental pieces passed down to her.

Katie Warren of Onion Studio takes a unique approach to cultivating items like scarves — making them with plant-based dyes and onion skins she gathers from friends or grocery stores.

Warren explained her process, “I try to get a pretty big pot full of onion skins and then I fill it with water about halfway and then I put it on the stove and simmer it for about an hour or two and slowly the color seeps out,” she said.

Once the water is saturated with the color she said she takes the pre-treated fabric and then wets it to even out the fabric before submerging it in a dye bath that eventually changes the color.

Warren noted that part of what drew her to the event was the lack of a fee for vendors, — an uncommon practice — as she said similar events normally charge upwards of $300 to set up shop.

Canfield native and Youngstown State University student, Kate Duncko of Kate’s Closet, set up shop to sell jeans and vintage fabrics that after thrifting she then embroiders with hearts, lyrics or whatever customers request.

While everyone was stuck inside during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Duncko said she turned embroidering clothing into a new hobby that has grown into a small business.

“I’ve always been into fashion and I had just got into thrifting when I got into college in 2019 and I just love repurposing jeans making them into something fun. I don’t want a plain pair of jeans, I want to spice up my outfit,” she said.

You can find her on instagram under the username: katescloset0.

Have an interesting story? Email Chris McBride at cmcbride@tribtoday.com.


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