Social Encore: Swapping closets with friends

Oct. 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Fashionista’s Market has made a name for itself in Chinatown as one of the first female-owned boutiques to pop up in the multifaceted neighborhood. I’ve always known owner Alyssa Fung to be such a bubbly, positive and big-hearted person. And every year, I always look forward to her annual “Fashionista’s Market’s Closet Swap.”

Alyssa Fung. (Courtesy photo)

Alyssa Fung. (Courtesy photo)

In last week’s blog, I shared how to find clothes at affordable prices. You’ll have an opportunity on Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Japanese Cultural Center’s Manoa Grand Ballroom to update your wardrobe with other fashionable ladies and enjoy a great breakfast with friends for less than $35.

The closet swap idea came to life in 2007 when Fung wanted to do something to help her community with fashion in mind. Every year, the event donates a portion of its proceeds to a local non-profit that helps women, children or the environment while also empowering women in Hawaii.

“‘Closet Swap’ is a lot of work, but we are more than happy to do this event every year because of the power to help others in need,” Fung said.

Here are the rules for closet swap:

1. Let It Go

Search your closet for fashionable gently used/brand new clothes, bags, shoes and accessories that you don’t fit and/or haven’t worn in the past six months.

2. Drop It

Drop all of your clean clothes, bags, shoes and accessories at FM Boutique. Your items will be tallied up and you’ll receive a ticket with the amount of swapping credit you’ve earned.

3. Swap It

On Oct. 13, get ready to swap with 200 of your fellow fashionistas. Participants take home the amount of items marked on their tickets and leave happy with a whole new wardrobe.

Over the years, Fung said she has found items from Roberta Oaks, Authentic Coach, Fighting Eel, Juicy Couture, Bebe, Calvin Klein, Theory and Betsey Johnson.

Local beauty guru Crystal Pancipanci said she created a borrowing wardrobe system amonst her friends while growing up, similar to closet swap. As a regular attendee at the annual FM event, she thinks the closet swap is pure genius.

Fashionista's Market founder Alyssa Fung, center, with stylist Crystal Pancipanci, left, and local model Moani Hara at Fung's Chinatown boutique in 2012. (Star-Advertiser File)

Fashionista’s Market founder Alyssa Fung, center, with stylist Crystal Pancipanci, left, and local model Moani Hara at Fung’s Chinatown boutique in 2012. (Star-Advertiser File)

“You have to clear out the old stuff, are forced to purge, then get rewarded (by) spending the day with the most amazing women and have a free for all, swapping and hunting for great finds,” said Pancipanci. Because the event is so well-organized, she said it makes every attendee feel like they are going on a shopping spree.

Pancipanci recommended checking out the accessories first.

“Over the years, I found great designer jeans, a St. John suit and the best vintage jewelry,” she said.

All items not purchased will be donated to the Leeward Domestic Abuse Shelter. Fung said she wanted to raise public awareness while having the ability to immediately help a cause.

“We are very passionate about educating our community that domestic violence is real. It happens everyday to anyone,” she said. “The ones that suffer the most are usually the children.”

Fung makes it a point every year to explain to each attendee why the event is so important, not only to herself but for the people she helps. She said she often cries while explaining her motivation, but it just shows how passionate she is about maing a difference.

One year, a woman from a shelter came to help. After Fung expressed how thankful she was, the woman cried while explaining her story of why she was homeless.

Fung said the woman told her, “We should be thanking you! You have no idea how much this means to us, that other women out there are giving us hope to take a stand. Making sure we have daily necessities like clothing, toiletries and makeup … donating toys for our kids because we had to leave our house with nothing”.

Fung said it makes the women happy knowing there are other people out there who care about them. It’s a reminder of how we shouldn’t take daily necessities for granted.

“These women literally feel like it’s Christmas when they get all of the remaining items dropped off,” she said. “Their children who are in the shelter can feel that there is hope because there are people out there that care about them even if we’ve never met.”

Alyssa Fung amid some of the clothes donated for the first closet swap in 2007. (Star-Advertiser File)

Alyssa Fung amid some of the clothes donated for the first closet swap in 2007. (Star-Advertiser File)

For Pancipanci, the swap is a good place to look for everyday items to wear. Women should definitely invest in basics such as black pants, a “power dress,” or sheath dress in a great color (something that can go from work to play), a boyfriend blazer and a good maxi dress (since we live in Hawaii).

For great soles, Panci said to invest in a good pair of black pumps, some kind of metallic heel and a good pair of cute work flats. To accessorize your outfit, you can’t go wrong with stud earrings and a nice watch. Then, if you feel like going on a splurge, go for a bag.

“It is like a baby, you will take it everywhere and care for it like one,” she said.

Keep her suggestions in mind, since you’ll be able to find all these items at the closet swap.

There will be more than just clothes at the closet swap, too. Fung is a esthetician by trade and always includes the cosmetology industry and other vendors to make the event so much fun. This year, there will be eye lash extension demos by Kristen Wood, a Rodan+Fields mini facial bar, tarot card readings by Steven Nakamitsu, airbrush tattoos by Tribal Airbrush and a photo booth to capture all the memories.

There will also be giveaways from companies like Fashionista’s Market, Q Laser, Rakuen, Rodan+Fields, Mango Luxe Jewelry and Cake Envy.

Attendees will also be eligible for a $500 gift bag; each attendee will receive one ticket for every 10 toiletry items/kids clothes/kids items brought in on the day of the event.

Tickets are $35, but there are only 30 left. If you reserve a table for 10, you’ll get a $300 discount if you tell them I sent you. For more information, visit the Fashionista’s Market website.
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Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.

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