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Why do you keep your clothes?

With an obvious cry for change in the way we consume what can slowing fashion do to help, and how can consumer-led /human-centred design bring about positive change?

There are some garments we keep for years and others we dispose of after one use. Why is it that we become attached to some and not others? But more importantly what is it about the garment that makes us keep it? Is it the durability of the product? The narative it holds, about us, about a certain time?

What makes YOU keep your clothes?

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    Nov 16 2013: I keep my clothes until they fall apart, and then cut them up to use as rags to clean my chain-saw, mower, car engine, etc, etc.
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      Nov 16 2013: I'm with you Joshua! I wear cloths until they start falling apart.....then they are relegated to "work clothes". If there is any good fabric left at all, I make something different with it (quilts, etc.), and if the fabric is absolutely unusable for anything else, it goes to the rag bag!

      Recently, a friend who was doing a big staining project stopped in looking for rags. He first went to the hardware store to buy some, and decided they were too expensive, so he came to my house asking if I still have a "rag bag", and could he have some rags if I had any? Well....of course I have a rag bag.....all old cloths, sheets, towels, etc. He left with a bunch of rags, and it gave me pleasure to see them reused:>)

      I have not bought or made any new cloths for years....I'm wearing the same things....often tearing old things apart and using fabrics that I really like to remake/redesign cloths. I started making my own cloths at about age 13-14 after watching my mother make and remake cloths for 8 kids.

      Recently, my daughter was home for awhile, and as we sat at the table with a quilt-style tablecloth, we started reminiscing.......oh.....there's that outfit you made for me when I was 6 years old.....there are the old curtains from the other house......there's the dress you made for was all fun to make those things in the beginning, and it was fun to see the fabric re-used and enjoyed in another form:>)
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        Nov 16 2013: The question in this thread was enlightening to me, because I had just assumed pretty much everyone does some version of what you describe, all the way down to the "rag bag," except for children's clothes that often are given to other kids once outgrown.

        The "dispose of after one use" in Mia's question is alien to me. Mia, if you are reading this, in what context have you known people to do this?
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          Nov 16 2013: What I describe above is what I learned as a kid growing up Fritzie, and it makes perfect sense to me. When I was young I thought it was "normal" for most people.

          However, as a young adult with a husband in the corporate world, I used to get razzed constantly because of my practices......reusing plastic bags, reusing cloths and fabrics, etc. Even my husband used to tell me to go buy it new.....we have the money.....we don't have to keep reusing things.

          The thing for me is, no matter how much money I have, or do not have, I will always reuse, renovate, restore and recycle, because it gives me pleasure to be aware of our resources and the environment......that's just what I do, and that will probably not change. I am very aware however, that many, many people dispose of "stuff" that could be repurposed.
        • Nov 18 2013: Hi Fritzie,

          I am a student conducting research for my dissertation on Emotional Design. Like you I keep my clothes for a long time, usually until they are worn down. However it is a huge problem with fast fashion that we consume garments we rarely use and conciquentially throw away.
          I live in a house of six girls, I know that over half of us have items in our wardrobe with the tags still on, most of which were brought because they were too good of a bargain to pass by and not actually because we needed them or will ever even wear them.
          There are then the items that people buy at cheap fashion shops such as Primark, I try and avoid these places at all costs due to their ethics and practices but also because the clothes are not made well. However, again, I know lots of people who will buy for example a christmas jumper for £10-15, it will be worn in for the next few weeks into the festive period then come April will be thrown out in a spring clean. Often due to it's low price tag people don't even view such items with enough value to keep, sell on, or even send to a charity shop.
          I think there has been a huge shift in the way we consume over the past couple of generations, my Mother often made her own clothes at my age, as did her friends - she says it was the cheapest and quickest way for her to get the clothes she wanted in time for the weekend. If I make myself clothes now my friends and contemporaries are always slightly shocked that I 1. have the skill to do so, and 2. have bothered to spend the time doing so.

          Its so interesting to hear all about the different relationships you all have with your clothes!
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        Nov 16 2013: I grew up that way also, my husband also.

        I expect you have been at a used goods store, like Goodwill, which is a fine place to find still serviceable clothing. My guess is that what lands there is mostly things that people have outgrown. But it is true, now that I think of it, that I do know someone indirectly who loves to wear different clothes and so gives clothes to such a store when she is tired of them and selects others from the same place. It can become like a large community sharing of clothes, with the very modest prices accompanying the exchange used to pay for education and training programs that Goodwill offers or, in the case of other similar large "exchanges," to contribute to one of the non-profit social service agencies.
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          Nov 16 2013: Yes Fritzie, I have been to goodwill, the salvation army facility and the local church when they have used goods sales, and those are the places I contribute anything that is still good, that I am pretty sure I will not use again. I know lots of people who practice what you mention cloths every once in awhile at goodwill-type shops, and they get some very lovely, barely worn cloths. Friends and I have traded a few cloths that we no longer want to have, or have outgrown, but now that I am retired, I don't really need much, and have not bought any cloths for years.
  • Nov 15 2013: Personally, I believe several factors affect the value I place on clothing. First of all, a big part of why we become so attached to our clothes is because of their connection with our identities. Clothes generally are placed in our bedrooms, a place of safety and warmth. Our clothes bring a sense of familiarity and security that causes us to cling to them for comfort. Clothes could also represent a version of ourselves we wish we could be or miss being. Humans imbue objects with value all the time, and the ones that we associate with our emotions become the most important. Maybe a certain outfit made us feel like we were powerful or beautiful, and we are attached to the beauty it gave us and want it to remain close. Clothing becomes an important part of our identity. And because humans are slow to change who we are, we are slow to change our wardrobes as well.
  • Dec 15 2013: I never keep my clothes - i only use them, when I no longer use them, I hand them over to others.

    It does not take that much effort to hand them in to charity shops, much better than just dumping them.
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    Nov 30 2013: I keep my clothes as long as they are comfortable and serviceable. I rate clothing as I do the weather, namely that it shouldn't hurt.
  • Nov 18 2013: familiarity, comfort, security, wearing old clothes you can be more relaxed ( do not have to worry about spills, etc.) and societal review (how trendy are you) and wait eventually the fashion will come back in style.
  • Nov 18 2013: Thank you all for joining the conversation, it's so interesting to hear all of your opinions. For those of you who don't always wear clothes right down, what is it about the clothes you DO keep and wear down/repair that make you do so?
  • Nov 16 2013: Comfort.
  • Nov 16 2013: I would first say that we are a nation of non-stop consumers; in a nutshell what makes us consumers is the abundance of products. When it comes to clothes and the reasons why we choose to keep or discard them could be solely based on fashionable reasons, economical reasons, personal reasons etc. For example, (and not to make accusations) wealthy people are more likely to discard their clothes more quickly due to trends going out of style. I will say though that such reasons are personal, and as for myself I tend to discard clothes if I no long wear them, find them to fit improperly, or overused; this may not be the case for others.

    In my opinion clothes are a means to an end. I buy them because I need them and whatever the case may be I know three things: 1.) that clothes are a necessity. 2.) money is spent more on clothes than most other commodities. 3.) Society has made clothing a part of a hierarchical system (another topic I could get into, but will not).

    And this is coming from a female's point of view.
  • Nov 16 2013: The clothes are the first impression and what we are beneath it, comes later.
    And we always have clothes for occasions and have to put on accordingly.
    ( though i am most comfortable in my t-shirt and pajamas they cant be put on in office )
    and they can be used for other occasions but very few chances of that.

    Start:- we buy new clothes for many reasons.
    1. old clothes torn or faded. we buy in what we are comfortable. mostly light and soft. not so expensive
    2. Some occasion ( Wedding , festivals etc. ) mostly fancy with some works most expensive
    3. Urgency ( stuck in other city for much more then scheduled stay - happened to me when i was in project and
    schedule only one day for visit but had to stay complete week ) mostly cheap.
    etc. etc.

    Use:- so when we buy clothes for purpose 1 they tend to be part of daily life and the experience we have with them.
    the association of feelings stick to the current situation and if something bad ( like most beautiful girl in college
    did not like the color :-) so i will put it again but frequency will come down.

    and if some good memories are attached it will put on again and again.

    when we buy for the purpose 2 it holds a very special part of our life
    those moments which changed our lives.
    but we wear them rarely. and they are the most expensive and not so comfortable but we still keep them for long
    some times hand over it to the next generation also.

    so the point is that clothes are associated with our feelings and experience which makes us keep some and throw some.
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    Nov 16 2013: I guess because some of them make me look fat.
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    Nov 16 2013: I am a blue jeans and t-shirt guy. I have a suit and one dress pant. I keep one set of uniforms in case of recall and parades.

    We know who we are and are comfortable with that. Cloths do not make the man or the woman. If material things impress you .... we will most likely not be in your circle. This a matter of choice not a money issue.

    I have dress jeans and work jeans .... they last a long time.

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    Nov 16 2013: My guess would be that the most common reasons to discard clothes are that they no longer fit or they simply got worn out (either quickly or slowly depending on how well made they were). One might keep a few token items of clothes for sentimental reasons- like baby's first shoes or a wedding dress.