Beijing is filled with surprises; I have had some wild experiences in this last year, which I doubt I would have had if I stayed in London. The expat community is welcoming, and I am invited to lots of fun events. Rebecca (a mother of 3) invited me to my first clothing auction. There is no gavel in sight, but lots of women and heaps of clothes. This is one of those things you wish you invented yourself; one of those “Aha” moments Oprah talks about. I am a professional thrift store shopper, secondhand buyer, and eBay-crazy mother. I have found the best deals for toys and clothes in these wonderful places. In this throw-away era, it’s such a joy to find something that you can use for so much longer instead of buying it brand new and paying next to nothing instead of full price. I was looking for something like thrift stores here in Beijing. What I found in clothing auctions is so much more fun. Clothes auctions are usually held in somebody’s home; Rebecca’s home was the venue for my first clothes auction. She is the original promoter of this wonderful idea.

A few years ago, her cousin in New Zealand held a clothes auction. Rebecca was struck by a few things: the awesome quality of clothes that people no longer wanted, how cheap they were, and how much fun the auction was. Rebecca held her first clothes auction in Indonesia when she realized her wardrobe was getting full of clothes she wasn’t wearing and she was craving a social event. Since then she has been spreading the auction joy in three different countries, Indonesia, New Zealand, and China. Her wardrobe is constantly changing, and she creates a ton of new friends along the way.

I have since attended countless clothing auctions and I have hosted several myself. I have met the co-founder of Beijing Mothers Guild at a clothes auction and made many friends for life. Clothes auctions are my favorite pastime in Beijing.

Slow and Ethical Fashion

Reusing and repurposing clothing is best for Earth. We try to empty our closets of things we don’t need and find new homes for them instead of buying new. Every piece matters and manufacturing clothing is bad for Mother Nature. So we should do our bit by reusing and re-loving.


The host of clothes auctions usually picks a charity and we donate all the proceeds to this cause. This part for me is important as I am yet in a position to give my actual money to charity. However, buying myself a new wardrobe and donating my clothes is something I can do. Although this seems little, all the auctions in Beijing have added up to a total over RMB 70,000 over three years.


Being an expat is hard, but clothes auctions bring women together. I have met many unlikely friends at auctions and have laughed so much. Sharing a night together while shopping and having wine and nibbles is the grandest way to make new girlfriends. In over three years, more than 300 women have been connected in Beijing by various clothes auctions.


Typical Clothes Auction Night:

7:00pm. Bring good quality ladies’ clothes and shoes you no longer wear, want, or fit. You can bring as few or as many items as you want. Also, bring some money so you can bid on other clothes. You do not have to bring clothes, you can just come to buy, or to socialize. Bring a bottle of wine, some snacks, or dessert to share.

-From 7 pm to 8 pm, you will have the opportunity to rummage through and try on any clothes that catch your eye.

-At 8 pm the auction will start. Auctioneers will quickly go through the items of clothes, with the opening bid starting at RMB 10. This means that if you are the only bidder on an item, you’ll pick it up for just RMB 10. If it’s an item that two or more people want, you’ll need to have a bid-off to win it. This is where the fun and laughter comes in! It’s OK to request to try it on if you are unsure about an item.

-You go home to an emptier wardrobe and fill it back up with new clothes.

-All unsold clothes will be donated to Roundabout and all the money raised will be donated to support a charitable cause.


If you want to run a clothes auction, gather a group of ladies and find a venue or a home to hold the auction. If you’re unsure how to auction the clothes, add Rebecca on WeChat (becstarnz) or me (paulus155).