Environmental impacts from the clothing sector have increased rapidly within the last 30 years, with clothing consumption as an important driver due to the large volumes of clothing that are produced. Yet, research on clothing consumption, and knowledge of how clothing is used and how this affects the total volume of clothing, is limited. In CHANGE, we will investigate what is most essential to reduce the environmental impact of clothing: reduce the amount of clothing that is produced, acquired and disposed of.
CHANGE will concentrate on two important elements in clothing consumption. One is to be properly dressed for the occasion, and the other is clothing standards related to the expectation of variety of garments. Where do these ideas come from? And how have they shaped our clothing habits over the last 200 years? We will look at why and how we change clothes between different occasions and the expectation and desire for variety of garments. The project objective is to improve our knowledge of how clothing volumes can be reduced by increasing the understanding of how people use clothing and how this has developed over time. The project will mainly study Norwegian clothing consumption through quantitative and qualitative wardrobe studies of couples. These will contrast with other wardrobe studies in and outside Europe. By looking at the connection between the individual consumer's practices and different clothing standards, and the consequences this has on an overall level, we will contribute with knowledge and theoretical concepts that bring consumption, the use of clothing, into debates and politics about clothing and the environment.
The project has been awarded 12 million from the funding scheme Ground-breaking research (FRIPRO) from the Research Council of Norway, from July 2021-2025. Project leader is Ingun Grimstad Klepp from Consumption Research Norway SIFO, OsloMet. Also from SIFO is senior researcher Kirsi Laitala, Ingrid Haugsrud and PhD student Vilde Haugrønning. Irene Maldini, Lusófona University, Portugal brings in methodological and empirical expertise in wardrobes in the Netherlands, Portugal and Uruguay. The latter with Lucrecia de Léon from the Universidad de la República. Research professor Kate Fletcher (UK) brings an outside perspective on class, decolonization and system level change. Else Skjold from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts takes responsibility for a network of students and researchers together with Liudmilla Aliabieva from Moscow University. Bjørn Sverre Hol Hagen from UiO / Anno Museum and Marie Ulväng from Stockholm University, together with Pernilla Rasmussen, Lund University, will add their historical dimension to the project, while Tone Skårdal Tobiasson will be responsible for dissemination and network building.
Environmental impacts from the clothing sector have increased rapidly within the last 20 years, with clothing consumption as an important driver. Yet, research on consumption, the use of clothes and how this impacts the volume, is limited. By studying changes in clothing consumption today, based on the past 200 years, CHANGE will contribute to an understanding of the material flow of clothing in and out of wardrobes, through the relationship between 3 pillars: ‘occasions’ , the ‘wardrobe’ and the volume of clothes acquired and disposed of.
CHANGE is an interdisciplinary project supported by a consortium of academics from consumption research, fashion, history and design with a diversity of methods linking detailed qualitative analysis with broader quantifiable consequences. The project will primarily focus on Norwegian clothing consumption and start with a historical perspective on clothing standards. Moving to the present, we will study men's and women's clothing consumption in parallel with detailed wardrobe studies. Norwegian wardrobes, with consumers of different socio-economic backgrounds will be contrasted with wardrobe studies of consumers in the Netherlands and Uruguay, enabling comparisons between similar consumer groups, but in additionally taking into account the differences in occasions caused by climate and cultural differences. A further international analysis will be conducted based on quantitative material on wardrobes from the largest consumer markets; the UK, the US, Germany, Japan and China.
Developing theoretical and methodological tools, the project has a threefold approach: 1) Insight on clothing consumption from a historical and contemporary analysis, 2) Identifying environmental impacts and provide a systems change perspective and 3) Academic and societal impact through recruitment to the academic research community and dissemination of knowledge regarding clothing and the environment to the general public and stakeholders.