This is the first research that has examined temporary swapping, a form of collaborative fashion consumption, that involves clothing exchange between two people that does not require the transfer of product ownership or monetary compensation. In this ethnographic study, we explored benefits, risks, and the meanings constructed by eight women before, during, and after exchanging parts of their wardrobes with a swap partner. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was used to organize the results of interpretation of participant diaries with photographs of swapped garments and created outfits over a six-month period. While the swapping experience addressed basic physiological needs and secured free resources (more clothing to wear) for all participants, the more advanced psychological (social, self-esteem) and personal growth needs (self-actualization, transcendence) were met for only some of them. Similarly, women perceived different risks (safety and self-esteem risks). Through a holistic interpretation of the results, we discovered two critical factors determining overall temporary swapping satisfaction and success: (1) closeness of the relationship between the swap partners and (2) participant love for clothes. Temporary swapping might play a critical role in the fashion marketplace transition to sustainable consumption practices because it provides a middle ground between product ownership and non-ownership and thus facilitates gradual dematerialization of consumer lifestyle.
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