The Clothing Closet is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Wes Alvers — a Master’s student at the School of Social Policy and Practice and social work intern at the LGBT Center — and Jake Muscato, associate director of the Center, created the Closet. The idea first stemmed from a desire to provide gender-affirming products like binders and shapewear to Penn students, according to Muscato.
The idea for the Closet "happened organically" while the two worked with Julia Burton, a Wellness at Penn provider who works with Penn's LGTBQ working group, he told The Daily Pennsylvanian
“It's almost two separate initiatives, the Closet and then also the gender-affirming products,” Alvers said. “But they do have this kind of copacetic relationship to some degree where they're working in tandem. Wellness has been on our side in this every step of the way.”
Muscato echoed that the Closet had a dual focus on providing gender-affirming products in addition to other forms of clothing.
“I just think it was like a collective feeling that when we decided we were going to do this, we didn't want to provide only binders, shapewear, underwear, undergarments without also providing clothing,” Muscato said.
The Closet will be completely free and students will be able to come in, browse the options, and take what they would like.
“Every item is entirely free,” said Alvers. “It will never have any costs associated with it. And that also continues when we start providing gender-affirming products, the binders, and the shapewear or the tucking underwear and things of that nature, that will all be free as well.”
Alvers and Muscato both told the DP that accessibility of the Closet was a priority.
The Closet — located in the Center's lounge area — will allow students to come in without interacting with anyone, in order to maximize privacy, according to Muscato.
“We kind of wanted it to be a space where folks didn't feel uncomfortable having to ask for it,” Muscato said.
As a partnership with Wellness at Penn, the Closet is associated with public health initiatives. Muscato and Alvers said they are encouraging people to wash their clothes before donating them and wash the clothes they get from the Closet before wearing them. The organizers also noted that they are asking for only unused undergarments and socks for sanitary reasons.
The organizers told the DP that donations are crucial for Penn community members to support the Clothing Closet initiative. Any Penn student can donate their old clothing to the program. Although the Closet is only open during specific hours, people can donate clothing anytime the Center is open, said Alvers.
Muscato said that students should consider the seasonality of clothing when donating to the Closet.
There will be an anonymous feedback form at the Closet where people can submit specific sizes or items that they are looking for, and the Center will do its best to fulfill these requests.
“We want this to be of use and for the community,” Alvers said.