Making wardrobe space: the sustainable potential of minimalist inspired fashion challenges

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Abstract

Minimalist fashion has become a key element of the wider minimalist movement that promotes reducing one's wardrobe space to a bare minimum of essential items (or a ‘capsule wardrobe’) with few, quality items that co-ordinate. Minimalist inspired ‘fashion challenges’, in which participants are challenged to only wear a certain number of garments over a certain time period, have also gained increasing momentum: particularly in the USA and the UK. This study considers ‘Project 333’ (in which participants must only where 33 items of clothes over a three-month period), and ‘the 6 Items Challenge’ (which requires participants to only wear 6 garments over 6 weeks), to explore their potential to encourage sustainable fashion (non)consumption. This is achieved via an analysis of 20 blog posts of individuals reflecting on their own participation in the two challenges and an auto-ethnography of my own participation in the 6 Items Challenge. The research reveals that whilst just over half of participants mentioned sustainability as a motivation or outcome of their participation in a fashion challenge, the challenges’ focus on garment reduction, re-use, repair and not shopping whilst partaking in them, renders them sustainably driven in practice. Almost all challenges also mentioned personal benefits of conducting a fashion challenge (such as money and time saved plus greater fashion creativity) which could be seen as a helpful way in which to encourage their uptake. However, the paper also considers the idealisation of ‘perfect’ minimalist wardrobe spaces and subsequent fashioned identities and issues regarding who has the pecuniary means to embrace the quality over quantity narrative of the challenges. The paper therefore concludes that fashion challenges do have the potential to encourage more sustainable fashion practices, but they simultaneously raise tensions regarding idealised minimalist fashioned identities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12848
Pages (from-to)274-283
Number of pages10
JournalArea
Volume55
Issue number2
Early online date26 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/),
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited..

Keywords

  • autoethnography
  • capsule wardrobe
  • fashion
  • fashion challenges
  • minimalism
  • sustainable fashion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development

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