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Forget Fitness Tracking: Wardrobe Tracking Is All The Rage In 2024

A growing number of people are religiously keeping tabs on how many of their clothes they’re actually wearing in a bid to make more sustainable choices going forward.

This is the time of the year when many of us go on a health kick, whether it’s doing Dry January or setting new fitness goals. But what about the health of your closet? Well, a growing number of people are now “wardrobe tracking”, both in a bid to keep tabs on how many of their clothes they’re actually wearing, and to make more sustainable choices going forward.

“Last year, I started to track what I was buying [as] I’ve been thinking about consumption for a long time,” Ella Gould, Selfridges’s head of sustainability and innovation, tells Vogue. “I came to the end of the year and was quite shocked to see 40 things on the list.”

Gould created a spreadsheet listing every item she bought, whether it was a planned purchase or an impulse buy, and ranked whether she had worn it a high (around 15 times), medium (between five to 10 times) or low (below five times) amount. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she discovered that three-fifths of her impulse buys had a low wear rate, while two-thirds of the purchases that she had carefully planned have already been “worn to death”.

“Knowledge is power,” Bianca Rangecroft, founder and CEO of digital wardrobe app Whering, says. First launched primarily as a styling tool, the app has seen a 129 per cent increase in people tracking their wardrobe in the past year. “The number one reason why [people] are coming to Whering is because it actually gives real time insights,” she notes. “I get [to see] what’s high versus low utilisation, what are some of the things that I’m wearing on repeat – and, lastly, a look into my cost per wear.”

Since launching the app in 2020, Rangecroft has been able to carefully track her own wardrobe. A second-hand Chanel bag she bought last year now only costs her £15 per wear, while a pair of Yves Saint Laurent loafers she bought at full price now has a negligible cost per wear. “It’s wild, you literally [write off the price of] the entire piece over its lifecycle,” the founder says.

The data she’s gleaned from tracking her wardrobe has helped her carefully consider what pieces are worth investing in, and which are not. “Basics and sunglasses are pieces that I typically wouldn’t splurge on,” she notes. “It’s been really helpful to see how much I actually use them to justify buying better and more sustainable pieces that are really going to last.”

As well as highlighting what clothes you are wearing, wardrobe tracking can help you understand which pieces are languishing at the back of your closet – and might be better off being sold on and given a new home. According to the textiles charity WRAP, the average person in the UK doesn’t wear around 25 per cent of their wardrobe. Rangecroft discovered that she was wearing just 30 per cent of her clothes when she first launched the app. Now that figure is at 69 per cent, through better management.

For many people who track their wardrobes, it’s about being more connected with the clothes they already own. Rather than use a digital tracking app, Wendy Ward, a designer and PhD researcher, has started sewing a stitch directly onto her clothes every time she wears them, as a physical record of how often a garment is being used. “It’s adding to a garment, almost enhancing it,” she explains. “The stitches as they’re gathering and spreading over the surface of garments are like a deliberate pattern of wear.”

Ultimately, wardrobe tracking does what it says on the tin: allowing people to understand exactly what clothes they already have, and what role they’re playing in their lives. “I’m holding myself accountable,” Gould, who’s committed to only buying five new things in 2024, says. “I’m much more conscious now about what I’ve already got.”

The original article can be found on Vogue UK.

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