What To Know About Modular Fashion And Its Benefits

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Have you ever had a cherished piece of clothing you couldn't throw or give away, and instead did what you could to preserve it? Like maybe a worn jean jacket that had so much sentimental value you decided to cut the sleeves and wear it as is to hold on to it a bit longer. Or a pair of pants you searched high and low to find, and although it's seen better days, you chose to cut the pants into long shorts instead of letting it go. If you can relate to this, then you already understand the concept of modular fashion.


JA clothing company defines modular fashion as "garments that have detachable or adaptable elements that can be easily removed, swapped out, or remodeled to create different styles." Essentially, it's wearing clothing with options. Only, unlike a worn jean jacket or pants, the options are built in so that a shirt with sleeves also detaches to become a sleeveless shirt if you need it to be.

But modular fashion is more than just about the convenience of multiple clothing pieces in one, it's the brainchild of sustainable fashion. According to a 2018 article in the Journal of Arts & Humanities, modular design "extend[s] the service cycle of clothing" so that it has a longer lifespan and minimizes wasteful clothing consumption. If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of modular fashion, here are some to consider.


It supports clothing style confidence

According to a 2018 article in the Journal of Consumer Behavior, clothing style confidence is defined as "confidence about the individual way people express themselves with clothing and accessories." And those with clothing style confidence tend to practice behaviors consistent with sustainability because of the way they engage with and preserve their clothes. For instance, they buy quality, timeless clothing they keep for long periods of time, and have the ability to be creative with their clothing such as mixing and matching pieces to create different outfits. These behaviors support sustainable practices by maintaining the life cycle of clothing.


So if modular fashion is a form of sustainability, and you're looking to enhance your style confidence, purchasing modular fashions may encourage more thoughtful maintenance of clothing. You'll have multiple options with single clothing items and can practice ways to mix and match modular pieces. You'll have an array of styling options, such as a coat that has removal sleeves, a shirt you can wear frontwards or backwards, or a sweater that can be worn as a sweater vest. Like those with clothing style confidence, this level of engagement could help sharpen our understanding of what looks good on our body, and create looks more authentic to us.

It's better for the environment

The longer we hold onto our clothing items, and resist the fast fashion cycle of overconsumption and waste in response to rapidly changing trends, the more we contribute to a healthier environment. According to a 2022 article in Inchainge, the Value Hill Model is a framework that supports maintaining the value of clothes as long as possible through the "pre-use", "use", and "post-use" phases. That is, instead of disposing of clothes in post-use where they will likely waste away in a landfill, we can find ways to extend the life cycle through "reuse," "refurbish," "remanufacture," or "recycle."


With modular fashions, the extended life cycle is built in. For instance, instead of getting rid of an entire piece of clothing, you may be able to replace adaptable pieces, creating less waste. So a dress that can transform into accessories like a backpack can be reused as a purely functional item if needed. Essentially, the longer clothes retain their value, the better chance to minimize the negative environmental impact that occurs when clothing waste fills landfills and pollutes the environment with harmful chemicals.

It's a better use of your money

The allure of fast fashion is typically the ability to buy of-the-moment clothes for cheap. But not only does this process increase waste, it's a poor use of money too. It's easy to succumb to immediate gratification, and get the trendy, budget-friendly shirt with less quality. And while we have the option to maintain that shirt longer, we often don't invest the energy to do so, especially when the trend is no longer appealing. Consequently, we lose money over time without a substantial wardrobe to show for it.


Modular clothing may be more costly because of higher quality, but it also lasts longer, thanks to it's flexibility, making it easier on our pockets over time. The 2018 article in Journal of Arts & Humanities states that with modular clothing, a module "bought this season" can be "combine[d] with the module of next season." This not only supports a more confident style as mentioned, but allows you to expand your wardrobe in ways that ensure you only buy what you need. This is what mindful shopping is all about, the ability to buy what you need without being sucked into gimmicky sales campaigns that leave you guilt-ridden about your purchases.

It contributes to wellness

Being mindful about your clothing purchases involve taking inventory of what you need, ensuring that your purchases fit the life you lead (or are trying to lead), and purchasing items that enhance your wardrobe. Similarly, Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner says in You are What You Wear, that mindful shopping is a "way to assess your actual need for a new wardrobe item...and to differentiate between need and want." Ultimately, this process increases the chances you will have the right clothes to support your best self.


As modular clothing compels you to consider the ways different pieces can work together and with other pieces in your wardrobe, it's an opportunity to slow down consumption and choose clothes that maximize your lifestyle. This invites you to think more deeply about your style and how you want to present to the world. Consistent with the 2018 article in the Journal of Consumer Behavior, establishing a personal style facilitates a wardrobe that is "consistent and stable over time." This slow fashion style reduces the anxiety and stress that can come with having to keep up with the latest fashion trends, and inevitably contributes to wellness.