Guelph style fest to supply ‘massive free retailer of clothes’

Circular Fashion Festival’s Megan Clarke looks at some early donations for the festival’s clothing swap and sale, taking place Oct. 22, 2022 at Old Quebec Street Shoppes.

  • Circular Fashion Festival's Megan Clarke hangs up some early donations for the festival's clothing swap and sale, taking place Oct. 22, 2022 at Old Quebec Street Shoppes.

The Guelph Tool Library is collecting clothing donations for an event that will be part of the city’s first-ever Circular Fashion Festival.

“It can be any clothing that people are looking to rehome,” said GTL program co-ordinator Stephanie Clarke.

The donations will be offered for free to the patrons of what the tool library is calling “Guelph’s largest clothing swap and sale.” The Oct. 22 event will also feature vendors selling hand-made and upcycled clothing and jewelry — “anything that’s basically not fast fashion,” said Clarke.

It’s just one highlight of the Circular Fashion Festival, a series of events that will take place from Oct. 17 to 23, coinciding with Waste Reduction Week.

The festival “advocates for slow fashion, skill sharing, and the circular economy,” said a news release announcing the event.

The festival will take place at various downtown Guelph locations, as well as on virtual platforms. Among the events are a sewing machine repair workshop, a clothing repair café, an upcycled fashion show, and a virtual panel discussion on fashion in the circular economy.

Funding for the festival comes from an Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities grant, and the clothing repair café and clothing swap are presented in collaboration with the City of Guelph.

“With the hard work and dedication of the Guelph Tool Library, this year’s festival provides many opportunities to enhance environmental and social benefits within our community while diverting valuable items from landfill,” city waste program co-ordinator Madeleine Myhill said in the release.

Clarke said the tool library would like to turn the festival into an annual event, but currently it is not clear whether that will be possible.

“It will all depend on what kind of funding we’ve got coming our way,” she said.

The majority of the festival’s events are free, although, some are offered by donation and some require advanced registration. The Upcycled Fashion Show is a ticketed event, with tickets priced on a sliding scale.

The clothing swap and sale and the fashion show will promote vendors of sustainable fashions, individuals who typically sell their wares on Etsy, Poshmark, or the like, said Clarke.

But you don’t have to have money to go home with some new-to-you duds from the swap.

“It’s basically like a big free store of clothing that is all supplemented by donated goods,” Clarke said.

You don’t even have to have donated something to the swap to participate, she said.

Donations of gently used clothing will be accepted at the tool library on Old Quebec Street until Oct. 15. The organization is also looking to borrow garment racks and hangers to display the donated items.

For the full list of festival events and links to registration, visit


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