Found clothes

Yesterday I mentioned clothes I had found, and promised to tell the story.

We drop our non-recyclable household waste down a chute outside our front door, from where it is sucked along underground tunnels and incinerated to provide Stockholm’s heat and hot water. Sweden recycles so well that it even has to import garbage from Norway and the Netherlands, because it does not produce enough to incinerate locally. For items that cannot be recycled that way, there are recycling rooms on the ground floor of each block of flats in our association. One room has containers for cardboard, paper, metal, glass (clear and coloured glass is recycled separately), batteries, electronics, and plastics. The other one is for larger household items.  In this room you can find vacuum cleaners, lamps, carpets, books (kept in a little informal library section), clothes, shelving units. Most of the things in this room are in perfect working order, but their owners were moving, decluttering, downsizing, or had decided to upgrade.

One Saturday a couple of months ago I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee. I was early, so I took some books and a lampshade to the recycling room. As I walked in, I saw this huge rainbow-hued mountain of clothes. There must have been over 120 items of clothing. Some of it brand new, with many designer brands. All my size, folded, and all clean. I scratched through the pile and found some real treasure, so I took most of it to our apartment for later, and went to my coffee.

When I got back from my coffee I washed, ironed, and folded everything (which took three full days), then waited to see if a notice was posted outside the recycling room wanting the clothes back. I thought perhaps there had been an argument and someone had thrown clothes away. No notice was forthcoming. So I tried on the clothes and kept the ones I really liked to one side. After a few weeks no one seemed to miss them or want them back, so I started wearing some of it. Many of the brands (Polo Ralph Lauren, Mexx, Part Two, Rodebjer, Baum und Pferdgarten, Day Birger et Mikkelsen, Stine Goya, InWear, Hugo Boss, J Lindeberg andby Marlene Birger) I would never be able to afford.

Some of the items were things I actually would have worn anyway, if I had been able to afford it. Others – like light-coloured trousers and brightly-coloured shirts were things that took me out of my comfort zone.

Three weeks later I popped in to leave some books and there were more clothes. This time gorgeous tuxedo trousers, a black suit by Hugo Boss, and lots of dresses.

In the photo above, everything I am wearing (apart from my boots, necklace and bag) came from that pile. The jeans are by BLK denim.

In the photo below, the top and the Morris jeans were from the found pile.

In the photos below you can see some of the trousers and shirts. Gingham is not something I ever wear, but these trousers looks so good with a pink or white t shirt.

…and here are some of the shirts (of which there were over 60)

I took some back to the recycling room – washed, ironed and neatly folded – so that someone else could have the joy of discovering them that I did.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

4 thoughts

  1. Fantastic finds! Well done Janet!
    I bet you visit that recycling room regularly now.
    I don’t wear second hand clothes but I donate what I don’t wear once or twice a year. I know the happiness it provides to the people who find items that suit them. Especially when they can’t afford to buy them new. It makes me really happy to know that those clothes will have a second life and will be appreciated.
    Let us know next time you find treasures!

  2. How fun! What an amazing find, and what a generous donation on the part of whoever left it there. You’re really lucky that all the beautiful clothes were your size. I’m happy for you and just a little envious. 🙂

    And I must say I thought we had a pretty good recycling system here in the Czech Rep., compared to some other countries, but it’s certainly nowhere near what you describe. Great job, Sweden!

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