Dressing a Demanding Body to Fit In: Clean and Decent with Ostomy or Chronic Skin Disease

Kirsi Laitala and Ingun Grimstad Klepp


This article discusses what kind of strategies people with a stoma or various chronic skin conditions, such as psoriasis oratopic dermatitis, use to find clothes that fit and enable them to fit in. Based on qualitative interviews in Norway, we study how they manage to dress with a demanding body, a poor market and limited economic resources. This includes describing how purchases take place, which clothes fit, how much clothing is needed, and which laundry practices are used. Their main strategy was to reduce the requirements for their own appearance rather than to cleanliness and body odours. If they were unable to appear appropriately dressed, as a minimum odourless and stain-free, they reduced their participation in social life.

Click here to read the full article (cogitatiopress.com).


Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Kirsi Laitala and Tone Skårdal Tobiasson


We have studied Norwegian and Swedish consumers’ experiences and perceptions related to using wool in bedlinen and sleepwear. We have used a variety of research methods including a web-based survey, qualitative interviews, a material test where informants commented various fabric samples, as well as user trials where informants tested sleeping in merino bedlinen and sleepwear. Informants were positively curious about bedding in wool. It appears that the change in use of wool follows a pattern where one context or setting is used as a springboard into a new setting. Important springboards among informants are; dressing their own babies in wool, next-to-skin underwear in sports, and tradition and handicrafts related to wool. Differences between Norway and Sweden are apparent in a different relationship to wool and to bedlinen. The market for woollen underwear is growing in Sweden and the differences between the two countries can thus be expected to decrease. Barriers related to hygiene, heat regulation, structure and softness are important in consumers’ thoughts about a wool-bed.

Click here to download and read the full report (oslomet.no)

Deviant bodies and suitable clothes

Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Mari Rysst


Suitable clothes are clothes that make the body socially accepted. The theme of this article concerns what people with deviant bodies do when suitable clothes are difficult to find; clothes that make their bodies fit in in everyday social contexts. Based on interviews with Norwegian men and women, the focus is on those people who have bodies that deviate from the present Western bodily ideals of thinness, fitness and no deviances.

The article relates the interviews to research in two different fields: disability studies and fashion studies. A primary focus is on the relationship between acceptance of one’s own body—“making the best out of it,”—and respondents’ different strategies for coping with the situation. The final discussion addresses the relationship between the clothes market and deviant bodies. Focusing on a group of people with special problems related to clothes might bring forth new knowledge in general. In addition, a change in the status of the market may have positive effects for those already excluded from this market.

Click here to read the full article (tandfonline.com).

Environmentally Sustainable Textile Consumption—What Characterizes the Political Textile Consumers?

Marthe Hårvik Austgulen


The textile and clothing industry is considered as one of the most polluting industries in the world. Still, the regulation of environmental hazards connected to the industry is very limited, and much responsibility is placed on the shoulders of consumers. One of the few ways that ordinary consumers can seek to influence the textile and clothing industry is through their own consumption practices and their wallet. This article departs from the discourse on sustainable consumption and the role of the consumer as an agent for change, and the article investigates the characteristics of the consumers who practice deliberate environmentally sustainable consumption of textiles and clothing. This is done through the lens of political consumption. Based on a cross-national survey conducted in five Western European countries, factors that have been found to predict general political consumption in previous research are tested on the field of textiles and clothing. The findings demonstrate both similarities and some discrepancies with previous studies of political consumption as well as significant country variations.

Click here to read the full article (springer.com).

Wool is a knitted fabric that itches, isn’t it?

Marie Hebrok and Ingun Grimstad Klepp


In this article, we explore in what ways consumers’ preconceptions of wool influence their ability to recognize it as a fabric. Do we know that it is wool because it itches, or, conversely, does it itch because we think that it is wool? The analysis builds on three different methods; wardrobe studies, sample tests and interviews, in order to explore both informants’ visual senses, and also applied tactile senses. It aims to bring together social science and textile technology methodologies and understanding in order to understand the properties of wool. It does this through adopting a multisensory understanding of the material. The research aimed to explore the associations with and experiences of wearing wool. This, we argue is as important as the senses in the process of identifying woollen fibres. The research found that the strongest influences in fabric identification were: perceptions of use, fabric type and fibres, colour, structure patterns and the ‘feel’ of the fabric.

Click here to access the article (ingentaconnect.com).

Consumers’ clothing disposal behaviour – a synthesis of research results

Kirsi Laitala


Consumer decisions on clothing disposal are important from an environmental point of view, as they have an effect on the lifespan of clothing, as well as the potential for reuse and recycling. This article summarizes what is known about consumers’ clothing disposal behaviour based on empirical literature published during the past 30 years. The goal of this synthesis is to integrate empirical research, find generalizable results, evaluate the used research methods and identify central issues for future research. Most clothing disposal studies concentrate on disposal channels, behavioural motivations, disposal reasons and demographics of consumers that behave in specified ways.

Many consumers prefer to deliver clothing for reuse rather than to dispose of them, but convenience is paramount. Common disposal reasons for apparel were wear and tear, poor fit and fashion or boredom, in addition to lack of storage space. Survey methods are most common, which indicates the need of other research designs that preferably include the clothing items in method triangulation. Studied samples are dominated by young women and students, and research on more heterogeneous samples is needed.

Click here to read the full article (wiley.com)

Consumption Studies: The force of the ordinary

Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Kirsi Laitala


Consumer research deals with the acquisition, use and disposal of goods and services. Our workplace, SIFO, the National Institute for Consumer Research in Norway, dates back to the 1930s, when home economics and testing of products were predominant. The work aimed at guiding consumers, at that time called housewives, through the ‘jungle’ of novel consumer goods. More recently, SIFO’s work combines social science and textile technology to study the social and technical aspects of consumption.

In this chapter, we ask: how can knowledge of clothing consumption contribute to the work on sustainable fashion? We will answer the question through examples from interdisciplinary projects on textiles at SIFO, as well as from consumer research. However, we will not give an overview of consumer research on clothes and sustainability. But first, an admission: fashion – the topic of this book – operates according to a different logic from our field of work. We would have posed the question differently: how can consumer research – and all the other fields of expertise covered in this book –contribute to more sustainable patterns of clothes production and consumption? Therefore, we also have to include a discussion of the concept of fashion.

This article is Chapter 12 in the book Routledge Handbook of Sustainability and Fashion, edited by Kate Fletcher and Mathilda Tham that you can find here (tandfonline.com).

Leisure and sustainable development in Norway: part of the solution and the problem

Carlo Aall, Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Agnes Brudvik Engeset, Silje Elisabeth Skuland and Eli Støa


The article presents the results of two succeeding Norwegian studies on the environmental impacts of leisure consumption. The first study presents data on the total consumption of leisure products and services by Norwegians, showing that leisure consumption increases more than everyday consumption, the most energy-intensive leisure activities increase the most, leisure activities have become more dependent on transportation and that leisure activities are to an increasing extent based on more material consumption. The second study consists of case studies from four leisure activities in Norway that have experienced the greatest increases in consumption over the last two decades: outdoor recreation clothing, cabins, leisure boating and leisure transportation.

The case studies show that the problems connected with reducing the environmental impacts of leisure consumption are numerous and complex, and cannot be solved alone by technological improvements in leisure products and services. We conclude that new policies have to be developed which can on a short-term basis promote changes of leisure consumer habits in a more environmentally friendly direction, and on a long-term basis alter the existing strong links between economic growth and leisure consumption.

Click here to read the full article (tandfonline.com).

Materialised Ideals: Sizes and Beauty

Kirsi Laitala, Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Benedicte Hauge


Today’s clothing industry is based on a system where clothes are made in ready-to-wear sizes and meant to fit most people. Studies have pointed out that consumers are discontent with the use of these systems: size designations are not accurate enough to find clothing that fits, and different sizes are poorly available. This article discusses in depth who these consumers are, and which consumer groups are the most dissatisfied with today’s sizing systems. Results are based on a web survey where 2834 Nordic consumers responded, complemented with eight in-depth interviews, market analysis on clothing sizes and in-store trouser size measurements.

Results indicate that higher shares of the consumers who have a body out of touch with the existing beauty ideals express discontentment with the sizing systems and the poor selection available. In particular, large women, very large men, and thin, short men are those who experience less priority in clothing stores and have more difficulties in finding clothes that fit. Consumers tend to blame themselves when the clothes do not fit their bodies, while our study points out that the industry is to blame as they do not produce clothing for all customers.

Click here to read the full article (cultureunbound.ep.liu.se).

Reading Fashion as Age: Teenage Girls’ and Grown Women’s Accounts of Clothing as Body and Social Status

Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Ardis Storm-Mathisen


If you don’t follow fashion, you wear, like, sorta childish clothes

(girl, aged thirteen)

I think about my age before wearing something that seems rather daring

(woman, aged forty-one)

This article discusses the similarities and differences in how women in two different stages of life describe the relationship between fashion and age. The analytical approach is basically discursive, based on Norwegian teenage girls’ and adult women’s verbal accounts of clothing and clothing practices in conversational interviews undertaken in the late 1990s.

Prevailing discourses as to what represents a breach of clothing conventions are to be found in the ways young girls and grown women talk about clothes. When clothes are used in accordance with conventions and norms, they are not noticed much. However, when clothes are used in a way that differs from the norm, this can attract attention and provoke reactions. By comparing narratives of clothing provided by respondents of the same sex and approximately the same class background but of different ages, we gain access to material that is particularly well suited to illustrate the significance of age in conventions governing clothing and fashion.

Click here to read the full article (tandfonline.com).