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.
As such the Fashion Ecologies project needed new methods. A lot of work went into adapting existing and creating new methods that included mapping, drawing, interviewing, auditing and loitering; methods inspired by art practice, ethnology, soft systems methodologies and ecology research, among others. These methods gathered data from both the formal and informal economy, data from private and public spaces, data that conformed to conventional understanding of what constitutes valuable clothing activity and also that which did not.
The methods, first trialled in the field, then became part of an edited book that collated the methodological repertoire for exploring clothing in the real world: Opening Up the Wardrobe: A Methods Book (Fletcher and Klepp, 2017) comprising 50 different research methods from in- and outside academic circles across four continents.