HAVE a look through your wardrobe. How many of those clothes have a story behind them?

Perhaps there’s a top you wore on a first date, a nightie you wore in hospital after giving birth to your first child, an outfit you bought for holiday.

To someone else they might just look like old clothing, but you know that they are more than that.

Artist and anti-waste campaigner and activist Libby Russell from Southampton is encouraging people to think about the stories behind clothes at an event on Friday.

She is holding a mini-clothes swap, called Clothes Stories, as part of a Making Day at God’s House Tower in Southampton, where artists are inviting the public to bring their own materials and get creative or take part in artists’ workshops.

Libby is encouraging people to bring along an item of clothing that they are happy to pass on to someone else and, using the materials provided, to write its story and attach it to the garment.

Libby, who helps to run monthly clothes swaps in Southampton, said: “I’ve got quite a lot of clothes from people with amazing stories about them. These stories add value and make the clothes more sentimental, less throw away.”

She hopes to encourage people to think more about the clothes they are wearing and see them as personal items rather than something to be worn once, if at all, and thrown away.

“The consumption of clothing is insane,” she said.

“It was especially bad recently when the students went home after the summer term. There were so many clothes just dumped in bins or on the street – lots of them with the labels still in them.

“It creates a huge amount of textile waste and people seem to feel a disconnect from what they own. The idea of the Clothes Stories event is to encourage people to see clothing as less disposable and more of a long term object.”

Libby has a few items of her own that she will be taking along to the event. These include a top which was one of the last items she bought new. For the last seven years, almost all of her clothes have come from bins, clothes swaps and friends.

Alongside the Clothes Stories event, there will be a full clothes swap.

It is not essential to have clothes to swap to attend the event, but the organisers ask for a donation and for people to be respectful and only take a few items.

“There are some items that you see go out and come back to the clothes swap a few months later,” she says.

“Some of the regulars definitely use it almost like a clothes library. I know people have brought things along to be kept in the clothes swap family.

“I had a skirt for ages that I loved but that didn’t fit me. I was just hoarding it. I gave it up a bit reluctantly, so I was really pleased that my friend took it and she’s getting lots of wear out of it now.

“We really hope that people will think a bit more about the clothes they’re buying and wearing,” she adds.

“It used to be that there were four fashion seasons a year. Now it seems like there are 52! People seem to buy clothes and just keep them at the back of their wardrobe. It just creates so much waste.”

For more information, search for Making Day at GHT or Southampton Clothes Swaps on Facebook.