World 46

A staggeringly large bequest, made by an eccentric fashion figure to the municipal library service in a major city in World 46 fifteen years ago, led to the creation of a network of landmark clothes libraries.

The impressive variety and quality of the collection quickly attracted attention and the majority of local residents now dress almost exclusively in library items, which can be borrowed for up to six weeks. A small subscription fee contributes to maintenance, including regular acquisitions in response to member requests.

The city has become internationally renowned for its sartorial style and minimal fashion-related carbon footprint. 

What if …

borrowing, rather than owning, clothes was the norm?

Issue targeted:

heaving wardrobes full of unworn clothes


clothes rental services; the brilliance of libraries

This World was contributed by Amy Twigger Holroyd (located in Nottingham, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

Response to World 46

This example reminded me of toy libraries, often associated with community centres and pre-school parents’ groups, sometimes for low-waged families, but ultimately good for all as they serve the useful purpose of 1) enabling access to a wide range of toys without the need to commit to a major purchase, and 2) serving a toddler’s whims and need for newness (not unlike the volatile tastes of a fast fashion consumer).

Interestingly, many toy libraries are run by local goverments in the UK, which is a model that many writers of Fashion Fiction Worlds have suggested may provide a socialist model for clothing provision. One example:

This particular example promotes toy reuse and sharing for the support of sensory and developmental needs in children. Could clothing share a similar function for adults as a psychological tool? Could we rent out personalities to try on? The toy library model is not dissimilar to the rental market for clothes that is enjoying a current trend (and draws on longstanding historical models for renting wedding and formal attire) although, in its new manifestation, it tends to be for big-ticket items and designer brands and is arguably more about saving money than saving the planet or for fundamentally rethinking fashion’s conventional values.

– Annebella Pollen

Does this World remind you of something?

I am keen to hear about any historical or contemporary real-world examples – whether individual practices, subcultures or mainstream activities – that this fiction brings to mind.

Please share any such examples using this form. Thank you!

Published by Amy Twigger Holroyd

explorer of Fashion Fictions