What Not to Wear: The Six Items Or Less Project

What Not to Wear: The Six Items Or Less Project

An insightful experiment about people and their motivations, personal challenges, communities...and clothes.

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 18 june 2010

BBH‘s Ben Malbon piqued our curiosity about a side project the agency is kicking off on June 21st. Come Monday, a group of global participants (from California to Dubai) are going to take part in an experiment, choosing six (and only six) items of clothing they pledge to wear for a month. They’ll share their experiences via a group blog during the month.

The immediate question you might be asking (as did we) is why – what is the purpose of the experiment, what does it aim to better understand about individuals – and why would participants sign up for this? According to Heidi Hackemer, Planning Director at BBH,

People have asked what the philosophy is behind the experiment and most assume it’s a statement about consumerism. In reality, we haven’t dictated a driving thought. Rather it’s about putting a challenge out there and seeing what people bring to it and do with it. Even in this pre-experiment era it’s turning out to be a nice brief: tight enough that there are walls and consistency, loose enough that the output will be varied and ripe for discussion.

Understandably, the notion of a personal challenge is enticing at a very human level – many of us want to see how far we can veer from the routines and habits that we have assumed over time. BBH finds that the primary motivation driving volunteers to participate in this experience fall into one of four broad camps:

1) anti-consumerism

2) the mental freedom that comes with a uniform

3) creativity (”let’s see how inventive I can be with this limitation”)

4) masochism

Ultimately, the experiment will serve to make its organizers and participants smarter about people, communities and personal motivations. What will it say about participants’ relationship to their clothes? In the meantime, the experiment itself also surprised its originators – BBH’s Heidi Hackemer and Fallon’s Tamsin Davies – with the speed at which it was embraced globally and digitally. At the core, it’s also an agency and brand-agnostic community that will provide insight and fodder for curious individuals – be they participants or viewers.

The project begins this Monday the 21st; if you’re up for the challenge, you have until Sunday to sign up. You can also follow the project on Twitter @sixitemsorless or via the blog at

Six Items or Less

[via BBH Labs]

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+ben malbon
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