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Insights of Unused Garments

1-2 days

Individual / Group / Discussion

Collect / Comprehend


When garments are not used anymore, they are discarded or forgotten in the back of the wardrobe as storage. There can be many reasons for this; such as technical aspects resulting in parts of the garment being broken, worn out or no longer fitting correctly. Other aspects are just as relevant to explore, and these can be connected to aesthetic preferences or social and emotional characteristics of the wearer. Insights on why clothing are no longer in use may spark ideas for designs that stay in active use and last longer.

Have you any garments for storage? And why is that?

Links to Pillar(s)

Cultural - Economic - Environmental - Social



A: Students investigate their own closets

B: Students visit each other to have a look into their individual wardrobes.

Ask students to take out pieces of clothing that have never been used, are used rarely or are no longer worn. Use the following questions to make them reflect on why these garments are placed in this category:

  • Where do the garments come from and what are the stories behind them?

  • Why are the garments not used? (for example aesthetic, technical, functional, emotional, trend-related aspects)

  • What are pros and cons of the identified garments?

Ask students to cluster garments in accordance to identified aspects and to photo document.

STEP 2: GROUPS (2-3 students)

Ask students to categorise insights, either from 2-3 individual students’ investigation or from a group investigation.

  • What are the patterns of non-use?

  • Photo document the visual overview


Ask the class to share insights in a plenary discussion with focus on, how these insights can be drivers for idea generation for the designer.

This Activity Links To
  • Narratives on unused garments.

  • Visual overviews of insights on unused garment.

  • Prepare a short introduction to the wardrobe study and the tasks the students should go through.

Suggested Readings

Laitala, K., Boks, C., & Klepp, I.K. 2015 “Making Clothing Last: A Design Approach for Reducing the Environmental Impacts”. International Journal of Design 9(2), pp. 93–107.

Woodward, S. 2020. Chapter 5. Understanding Things-In-Relation: Surface Assemblages, Inventories and Interviews in: Material Methods: Researching and thinking with things. SAGE Publications, pp. 74-94.

Fletcher, K. & Klepp, I.K. 2017. “Opening up the Wardrobe: A Methods Book”. Novus.

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