Reusing Textiles: on Material and Cultural Wear and Tear


  • Anneli Palmsköld Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg, Sweden



Reusing textiles, material wear and tear, cultural wear and tear, sorting processes


Focusing on Swedish context, this article discusses contemporary practices connected to clothes and home textiles that are no longer in use, comparing them to reusing practices from the middle of the nineteenth century and onwards. The focus is on how the textiles are objects for different sorting processes in private homes as well as on a flea market, and people’s ethical concerns connected to these processes. Until the early 1970’s the skills of mending, altering and patching was common knowledge, to women at least. The reusing processes were about wear and tear considerations from a material point of view. Today there are many more clothing and home textiles items in circulation, which have to be taken care of. To handle and sort textiles seems, among other things, to be about coping with different feelings connected with guilt and bad conscience. To avoid these feelings people are seeking ways of letting the textiles circulate in order to be reused by others.


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How to Cite

Palmsköld, A. (2015) “Reusing Textiles: on Material and Cultural Wear and Tear”, Culture Unbound, 7(1), pp. 31–43. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.157131.



Theme: Circulating Stuff through Second-hand, Vintage and Retro Markets