Cash-crunching students at Stony Brook University now have a way to make over their wardrobes without spending a dime, according to Jacqueline Burtonboy and Kelsie Bottorff, the founders of Seawolves Swap. Burtonboy and Bottorff, sophomores majoring in biology and business respectively, said participants can trade clothes that they do not wear anymore for vouchers. Later, the group will meet up and anyone with a voucher can swap it for a different article of clothing.
“We’re poor college students,” Bottorff said. “We both don’t have cars, so we can’t go shopping. We don’t even have jobs. We need a new wardrobe, what’s a new way of doing it?”
According to the duo, they found the answer at Columbia University, where students organized similar programs in the past.
“It’s not like I don’t have nice clothing that I can switch with someone else,” Burtonboy said. “I just can’t afford new stuff.”
In just over a week, Burtonboy and Bottorff filled a clothing rack, a few cardboard boxes, and the couch outside their suite with lightly used clothes—and they have not run their dropoff drives yet.
“We have really good friends,” Bottorff explained, and her goal with Seawolves Swap is to meet even more.
As transfer students, both women said they wanted to expand their networks here at Stony Brook.
“Without participation, it isn’t an event,” Burtonboy said. More participation means meeting more people. “It’s networking,” she added.
Ariel Kodis, a junior sociology major who picks up donations for Seawolves Swap, said in addition to participating, people are getting excited.
“I go to pick up clothes thinking it will take a couple of minutes,” Kodis said. “Sometimes I’m there for an hour. People talk. It’s interesting to hear their stories.”
Women are sometimes hesitant to give up the dress they wore on a few first dates, according to Burtonboy and Bottorff, or their favorite leather jacket. But not every piece of clothing is a heartwarming memento.
“Every time I wore this dress,” Bottorff said, holding up a fancy black number with a bow on the back, “Something bad happened. It’s this bittersweet attachment that you’ve never thought you’d have with clothes.”
Eventually, she added the dress to the swap rack. She has had less success with a particular demographic around campus.
“Men wear clothing too,” Burtonboy said. “From what I’ve heard.”
But they have not been as receptive to the idea—even though Seawolves Swap volunteers stress that the program is not gender specific.
“Girls will do it with their friends all the time,” Bottorff said. “Guys don’t get enough credit that they pay attention to fashion. We don’t want them to be excluded because they think it’s girly.”
According to Kodis, who does most of the collections because she is the one with the car, the only items turned in by guys are sports jerseys.
There is another purpose behind Seawolves Swap too: sustainability. But Burtonboy and Bottorff do not want to scare anyone away by focusing solely on going green.
“To us, it’s obvious why you need to recycle,” Burtonboy said. “But we don’t want to be condescending.”
Though, as Bottorff says, they are “hippies at heart,” the goals are to have fun, meet new friends, and complete a few new—or lightly used—outfits.
“No one wants to be badgered to death to recycle.”
Swap dates are listed on the Seawolves Swap Facebook page.