SIFO's clothing research examines how we acquire, use, clean, care for and dispose of clothes and other textiles. The research includes consumption of clothes for adults and children in Norway and comparative studies of clothing elsewhere in the world, both today and historically.
Clothes are complex both technically and socially, and our research takes this complexity into consideration. Our cleaning and care habits, clothing norms and habits are thus examined in connection with material aspects. To achieve this, SIFO's clothing researchers have developed methods (wardrobe studies) with great impact on clothing research internationally.
SIFO has been researching clothes since the institute was founded in 1939. Back then the authorities aimed at increasing knowledge about housekeeping, facilitate work for housewives and ensure good clothes and healthy food for everyone.
Today's clothing research continues to include information to the public and projects for business and industry. Earlier, clothing research took place in SIFOs laboratories, where products and textiles were tested. Today's research is a continuation of the material focus from the laboratories, but the methods are mainly from cultural and social sciences.
Clothing research at SIFO is aimed at major societal challenges
- Environment and climate (product lifetime, environmental toxins, plastic reduction, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from consumption, sharing economy, life cycle analysis, cleaning habits and repair)
- Health, welfare and safety (good clothes and the opportunity to take part in society and outdoor life; physical activity for children, sick, disabled and immigrants; self-respect (clothes for movement, understanding of own body and exclusion mechanisms based on appearance))
- Development of value chains and resource utilization, especially for wool, but also leather (improvements in value chains, utilization of waste products) and waste minimization (repair, reuse, recycle)
- Business development and resource efficiency (product development, better utilization of new and old raw materials, user adaptation)
- Integration, participation in democracy, equality, gender (clothing’s role in exclusion and inclusion, clothing for power, gender and power, distribution of unpaid labour)
- Personal finances, clothes for different life stages and occasions (SIFO's reference budget for consumer expenditures)
- Cultural heritage, cultural preservation and crafts (e.g. utilization of older textile history in today's products, home production, language and tradition, techniques and technology, handicrafts and crafts)