Identifying Good Practices of Use: Insights on the Consumption of Sustainable Fashion in Uruguay

Authors: Micaela Cazot and Lía Fernández, Montevideo, Uruguay. Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design (Textile/Clothing Profile)

Original title: Identificando buenas prácticas de uso: reflexiones sobre el consumo de la moda sustentable en Uruguay.

Aim of the study/exercise: Educational, as the Final Degree Project for a Bachelor ‘s degree in Industrial Design – Textile/Clothing Profile, Universidad de la República (Montevideo, Uruguay).

What was the objective of the study?

To understand and analyze the clothing usage practices of a group of Uruguayan women who consider themselves sustainable in their way of dressing. The focus is on the users’ characteristics, circumstances, and life situations, seeking to identify good consumption practices based on the connection formed between individuals and their garments, as well as between garment and garment.

Context: Influence or inspiration

The choice of this topic arises from the motivation to visualize the role that design plays in generating good consumption practices. It is valuable to analyze the connection between consumers and their garments to recognize various factors in the purchase and use of clothing, aiming to raise awareness and contribute to the future of fashion by promoting more sustainable consumption.

An overview of every item that we analyzed with the participants during the method.

How was the method used?

This method consists of two parts:

  • an interview, with questions aiming to understand the participant’s relationship with sustainability and practices of acquisition, use and disposal of clothing.
  • a wardrobe visit, where they are asked to select an item of clothing for each of the following categories: the newest, the oldest, the most used, and the least used. We then proceed to take pictures of the items and ask questions related to each of these categories.

To carry out this method a characterization of the Uruguayan sustainable fashion consumer is made to search for participants, who ideally have different ways in which they experience sustainability. This search resulted in a selection of five women from five different generations residing in Montevideo which includes: leaders of sustainable fashion in Uruguay, design professors, a person from our close circle and a person involved in the second hand business.

After the method is carried out, the information is evaluated and reviewed by comparing the answer for each question and the garments in each category, looking for similarities and differences.

What happened after the study/exercise? What about the results and objectives?

As this study was produced for a final degree project, it was recorded thoroughly in a document that can be found in the institutional repository of the University.

How could this specific method be used by others? What are other insights/results that this method can generate?

As this method was only introduced to a small number of people in Montevideo, we believe it could be adapted to be used in other parts of Uruguay or in other parts of the world, and even with more people involved. Depending on the region where this method is applied, it will yield conclusions that reflect the culture and society that inhabits that place, from a sustainable point of view.

A collage of two items that were documented in the interviews and old analog photos the participants had of them wearing the items.

We believe that what matters the most is that, as designers, we must recognize the importance of understanding the complexities of clothing and feelings by addressing them in our creative work. Creating awareness about the emotional bonds and individual circumstances that influence consumption habits, and how these can be channels for fostering more sustainable practices in fashion.

What insights does this method generate?

Regarding the data provided by both parts, we can observe certain recurring patterns across interviews. For instance, all the garments we visualized with the users in their homes have stories beyond their materiality; they are not mere pieces of clothing but rather reflect nuanced aspects of the person who wears them and their emotional attachment with each item. Furthermore, we found that all of the participants have a relationship with sustainability that goes beyond responsible consumption of clothing and also encompasses other areas of their life such as their profession, their hobbies, their eating habits and their life experiences. All of them admit that they do not consume clothing in large quantities and no more than ten items of clothing a year enter their wardrobes. This indicates a strong inclination to consume less when one has a sustainable philosophy.

The habit of holding onto clothes that they do not wear for a long time is very present in these participants, because they believe that there is the possibility of using them again later on. They see the future potential of their clothing, rather than discarding it by not wearing it for a while. This generates an emotional connection with the garment, since it is seen as an opportunity instead of waste.

On the other hand, users who engaged in second-hand consumption expressed that accessing this market requires time and accessibility that not everyone possesses. There is a process behind the choice of second-hand garments, which sometimes becomes a matter of privilege. Similarly, garment repair as a tool to extend the lifespan of clothing is not available to all consumers due to lack of knowledge.

Conversely, some participants opt to make adjustments to their garments through modifications, repairs, or redesigns. Others enhance their wardrobe creativity by borrowing clothes from friends and family, finding enjoyment in mixing their own clothing with others’, thereby strengthening their individual fashion perception by exploring new dressing styles.

This more conscious approach to dressing reflects a trend towards sustainable fashion and a deeper connection with personal expression through clothing. Consequently, these users discard clothing less frequently.

In summary, the diversity in the responses obtained highlights the complexity and richness of the experiences, providing a profound and contextualized insight.


  1. Armstrong, C., Lang, C. (2018) “The Clothing Style Confidence Mindset in a Circular Economy” Aalto University, DOI: 10.1002/cb.1739.
  2. Bjerck, M., Klepp, I. (2014) “A methodological approach to the materiality of clothing: Wardrobe studies”, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 17:4, 373-386, DOI:  10.1080/13645579.2012.737148.
  3. De León, L., Haugrønning, V., Maldini, I. (2023) “Studying clothing consumption volumes through wardrobe studies: a methodological reflection” The 5th Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE) Conference, Espoo: Aalto University, pp. 610-616.
  4. Fletcher, K., Klepp, G. (2017) “Opening up the Wardrobe: a methods book”. Novus Press, Oslo: Noruega.

Care and production of clothing in Norwegian homes: Environmental implications of mending and making practices

Kirsi Laitala and Ingun Grimstad Klepp


Mending, re-design, and altering are alternatives for prolonging the use period of clothing. It is a common assumption that nobody mends clothing anymore in Western societies. This paper studies Norwegian consumers’ clothing mending and making practices. We ask how common the different mending and making activities are, has this changed during the past several years, who are the clothing menders and makers, and further, are these practices related to consumers environmental opinions?

We build on three quantitative surveys in Norway from 2010, 2011, and 2017. Many consumers do mend their clothing at least occasionally, especially the simpler tasks, such as sewing on a button and fixing an unravelled seam. Women and the elderly are more active in making and mending, whereas the young are a bit more likely to make something new out of old clothing. The mending activities were correlated with respondents’ environmental opinions. Mending clothes is more common than is usually assumed. Knowledge of current practices and barriers for clothing mending enables us to recommend measures that can potentially increase the use time of clothing. These results can be beneficial in clothing design, home economics, and crafts education as well as understanding consumer behavior and making policies that aim at environmental improvements within clothing consumption.

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Motivations for and against second-hand clothing acquisition

Kirsi Laitala and Ingun Grimstad Klepp


One of the possibilities consumers have for more sustainable clothing acquisition is to select pre-owned products. This article explores consumers’ motivations for clothing reuse: why they choose or do not choose to acquire second-hand clothing. First, a taxonomy of motivation categories based on previous studies is presented. This demonstrates that similar properties can be used as arguments both for and against acquisition of second-hand clothing. An analysis of a representative sample of Norwegian consumers shows that both environmental and economic reasons are important for those who take part in informal clothing circulation. Uniqueness and style are more important for those who buy second-hand clothing.

Those who do not take part in any of the forms of acquisition of used clothing, use vague and open justifications, as well as contextual aspects; hygiene, health and intimacy. Previous studies have mostly been based on how clothing is reused as part of a market exchange, and therefore the motives have been embedded with a rational choice understanding of consumption. Studies of the private exchange of clothing should also address additional reasons such as routinized practices and established rituals, family ties, feelings, friendship and love. The article concludes with an invitation for further research to explore several possible motivations that are more relevant for private circulation of clothes.

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