The purpose of this research was to gather primary statistical data on obsolescent mens tailored jackets in an attempt to identify any patterns of damage which could have contributed to its donation and disposal.
An excel spread sheet was created pre arrival, which broke the jackets down individual their individual characteristics, to include:
Brand Name, size, shell cloth composition, lining composition, country of manufacture, wash instructions, lapel type, pockets, fastenings, cuff type, vents, top collar, undercollar etc...
Once an initial analysis of the jacket has taken place it was placed on a mannequin in a photostudio and analysed both internally and externally for evidence of damage and whether the damage was deemed repairable with a proposed repair and skill level required.
The jackets selected were random and straight from the donated bin bags of garments as they made there way down the shoot to the sorting bays. In the time available I managed to analyse and record 14 jackets thoroughly. Brand names included: Zara Man, Hackett, M&S, Hugo Boss, Hardy Amies, Brook Taverner, Browns, H&M, Robert Charles London, Jaeger and more....
The sample of jackets took longer than expected to analyse to the level carried out and therefore a second visit is planned to increase the sample size before analysing for any patterns of commonality. My initial surprise was in the variety of brands and quality levels of the jackets donated. I was expected a lot more of the lower end mass produced brands due to their low cost and assumed consumer behaviour to these garments. Finding a Hackett and Hardy Amies jacket was unexpected, especially as the damage identified on both jackets were deemed minimal and repairable without seeking specialised help. At least two jackets were found to have no damage at all, which raises the question on why they were discarded in the first place and several still had the pockets sewn shut (common when buying a new jacket to prevent pockets sagging due to hanging or customer try ons) which suggests the jacket has not been worn on many occasions.
Assumptions of discard:
With the jackets that showed no or very little damage questions about why the jacket is no longer desired can only be speculated. Possible reasons could be:
The jacket is no longer fashionable (colour, fit style)
The owner has changed body shape and it no longer fits ( too big or too small) - this raises questions about adaptability of garments over time and the use of inlays (bespoke tailoring) compared to no inlays in RTW.
The owner may have passed away and the garments donated by family or friends. Speaking to Holly at Oxfam a lot of their more prestigious garments are donated for this reason.
The jacket may have been part of suit and the trousers are worn, lost or no longer fit.
The brand name is no longer "cool" due to image, ethics etc.
In order to research why jackets are donated further qualitive research through focus groups, questionnaires and case studies may need to be carried out in order to further understand the phycological factors of male behaviour towards their suits. Purchase, wear, care and discard.