An Ethnographic Study of Collaborative Fashion Consumption: The Case of Temporary Clothing Swapping

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elena Karpova, Putman & Hayes Distinguished Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: This is the first research that has examined temporary swapping, a form of collaborative fashionconsumption, that involves clothing exchange between two people that does not require thetransfer of product ownership or monetary compensation. In this ethnographic study, we exploredbenefits, risks, and the meanings constructed by eight women before, during, and after exchangingparts of their wardrobes with a swap partner. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was used to organizethe results of interpretation of participant diaries with photographs of swapped garments andcreated outfits over a six-month period. While the swapping experience addressed basicphysiological needs and secured free resources (more clothing to wear) for all participants, themore advanced psychological (social, self-esteem) and personal growth needs (self-actualization,transcendence) were met for only some of them. Similarly, women perceived different risks (safetyand self-esteem risks). Through a holistic interpretation of the results, we discovered two criticalfactors determining overall temporary swapping satisfaction and success: (1) closeness of therelationship between the swap partners and (2) participant love for clothes. Temporary swappingmight play a critical role in the fashion marketplace transition to sustainable consumption practicesbecause it provides a middle ground between product ownership and non-ownership and thusfacilitates gradual dematerialization of consumer lifestyle.

Additional Information

Sustainability, 14(5)
Language: English
Date: 2022
swapping, collaborative consumption, alternative clothing consumption, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ownership transfer, ethnographic

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