The task of recording place-based fashion interactions, relationships and related resource flows is a highly unusual one – a hybrid anthropological-scientific investigation – that few conventional textiles and clothing research methods are set up to deal with.

So the Fashion Ecologies project needed new methods. We adapted existing and created new methods that included mapping, drawing, interviewing, auditing and loitering. These methods were inspired by art practice, ethnology, soft systems methodologies and ecology research, among others. They gathered data from both the formal and informal economy, from private and public spaces, that which conformed to conventional ideas of what constitutes valuable clothing activity, and also that which did not.

The methods were first trialled in the field and then became part of book edited by Kate Fletcher and Ingun Grimstad Klepp that collated the methodological repertoire for exploring clothing in the real world. Opening Up the Wardrobe: A Methods Book comprises 50 different research methods from in- and outside academic circles across four continents. The book is available direct from the publishers NOVUS.