If you’re like most Americans, your closet is full of clothes you don’t wear. According to Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, clinical psychologist and author of the book You Are What You Wear , most Americans don a mere 20% of their closets 80% of the time. So, if you own 103 pieces of clothing (the actual average among American women), you typically wear approximately 20 of those pieces. The rest just take up space in your closet and, perhaps, in your mind.
The popular The Paradox of Choice theory may offer justification for this. Essentially, it claims that too many options makes decision making harder, not easier. And the celebrated idea of a capsule wardrobe –a small collection of clothing essentials that go together–offers a solution. Not only is having excess clothes wasteful, it’s also practically unnecessary and environmentally unfriendly.
This raises the question: when it comes to our closets, how much clothing do we actually need? And is there a way to dress so we get as much comfort, function, style and variety we seek with fewer items?
Enter the Life Systems philosophy behind LifeLabs Designs. One of our governing principles is to innovate textiles to make goods that give you more, with less. That’s less material, but also less environmental impact without sacrificing looking good.
Everything you need for 72 Hours
“What are the core staples that are always on me?” This question was the origin of LifeLabs' inaugural 72 Hours collection, which provided everything someone would want and need Friday-Sunday for work, sleep and sport.
The 72 Hour line offered a capsule collection of essential and timeless pieces to be worn across a variety of settings and activities. A fundamental baseline for your wardrobe, the collection features clean lines and modern touches on staple pieces you could use interchangeably with other items in your closet, or on their own.
“You grab the cooling tee and the CoolLife short, then the WarmLife Vest and cooling pant, add a set of our underwear and you can operate with that for a while,” says LifeLabs VP of Product Design JJ Collier. Or you can mix and match the pieces to suit your climate or occasion.
“Essentialism,” Collier says, “is a maximum versatility story. You can trust us. You’re going to look great, the clothes are going to perform and you can go anywhere in the world with these six pieces.” Paradox of Choice be damned; decision making just got a lot easier.
Designing for less and more
Industrial designer Dieter Rams is widely celebrated for his essentialist and aesthetic approach to functional design. Over the decades he designed for German appliance company Braun and furniture company Vitsœ , he became known for his 10 Principles of Good Design including the following guideposts: innovative, aesthetic, honest, long lasting and environmentally friendly. He coined the idea of making products on the frameworks of less but better , and, less and more .
These principles underlie LifeLabs Life Systems approach as well. Take the WarmLife jacket, for instance. The innovative, reflective WarmLife technology allows us to use less insulation but while being warmer than competitors “It’s less material,” explains Collier, “but your experience is more.”
As for the environmentally friendly aspect, says Collier, “In the interest of sustainability, waste reduction and smart design, we try to reuse as many of the same items as we can as often as we can, like zipper pulls. We’re trying to pick the best materials and run them for as long as we can so we reduce the risk of having rolls of unused fabric at the factory, which a lot of brands do.” Those extra rolls of fabric often end up in the incinerator.
Life Systems beyond apparel
The Life Systems approach isn’t just limited to clothing, or even to design principles. Viewed through a wider lens that takes into account the current climate crisis, the ultimate goal is to help people reduce their personal energy consumption and live more comfortably.
This includes innovating textiles that let you stay warm or cool, day or night, without relying on heating and cooling systems to do so. It also means utilizing low impact recycled materials that can then be recycled at the end of use and made into something new. All without sacrificing design or aesthetics.
The LifeSystems approach offers a versatility in our products which gives you a clear path to owning and using less, in terms of clothing, energy and global impact.