An international fashion research project exploring the 'craft of use'

Shared Use

Sharing clothes saves resources if it means fewer pieces are bought. For garments to have multiple users, fit matters; but they also have to be shared with the right people. Sharing works when a bond and joint identity is reinforced by common use; when a memory is re-lived; and when access is gained not just to more and different pieces but also to the values, taste and sensibilities of the owner.

The dress from Antibes

Mother: "The people who lived next door gave me this dress from Antibes which they had worn there over many seasons and they said I could have it for our holiday. A great success. And, I can’t think how many more years I wore it…

Daughter 1: "I am one of three sisters and we were very keen to wear this dress and have shared it since we were old enough to have a grown up figure... a period of about forty years…

Daughter 2: "So this dress has been going for a long time! It’s a sundress, it’s worn really on very joyous and special occasions so, for example, we have photographs of one or other of us wearing it… for example, my middle sister wore it at my mother’s seventieth birthday party."

Daughter 1: "There’s a certain amount of jealousy between me and my middle sister, and she’s always asking if she can ‘have a go’ with the dress for our summer holidays. We often go away together in the summer and the dress always comes with us. And now, almost every holiday I’ve been on, I think, to a warm place the dress has come out and been worn."

Mother: "We say, ‘Who’s got the dress this year?’, when they want it. And in the beginning I had sole possession of it."

Daughter 2: "Well yeah, because we were too young to wear it."Mother: "Well, yes but it soon came the time…

Daughter 2: "And now there’s another generation coming up, our children, who have got their eye on that dress."

London - January 2010
Photograph by Sean Michael