Changing Room - Definitions for the Clothing & Textile Industry

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A changing room, also known as a changeroom (in Australia, Canada, and other areas, including some parts of the USA), change room, lockerroom, or locker room in the United Kingdom or USA) is a place where people go to change their clothes. Usually this is for privacy so that they can be away from other people, or away from people of the other gender.

Changing rooms usually either have individual changing cubicles, stalls, etc., or they have open spaces that are excluded to persons of the other gender. Sometimes washrooms are used for changing clothes, since a person can readily change in a toilet cubicle. Many changerooms include washrooms and showers. Sometimes a changeroom exists as a small portion of a washroom. For example, the men's and women's washrooms in Toronto's Dundas Square (which includes a water-play area) each include a change area which is a blank counter space at the end of a row of sinks. In this case, the facility is primarily a washroom, and its use as a change room represents only about one sixth of the space, since only a small percentage of users bother to change into bathingsuits.

Larger changing rooms are usually found at public beaches, or other bathing areas, where most of the space is for changing, and minimal washroom space is included. Beach-style changerooms are often large open rooms with benches around the outside, and some have no roof, providing only the minimum necessary barrier to prevent persons of the other gender from seeing in.

Different kinds of change rooms

Various kinds of changerooms include the following:

  • locker rooms are usually gender-specific spaces where clothes are changed and stored often for swimming or other sporting purposes;
  • fitting rooms or dressing rooms are usually small single-user cubicles where one person at-a-time tries on clothes, either by changing, or by just putting other clothes on top;
  • green rooms and trap rooms are usually mixed-gender backstage or under-stage changing spaces;

Locker rooms

Locker rooms are places where clothes can be changed and stored. Locker rooms usually have lockers (storage compartments with a lock) for locking the clothes in, but they may also have a locker room attendant who receives clothes from users, and then gives them back when the user desires. Locker rooms are usually open spaces where people change together, but there are separate areas, or separate locker rooms, for men and women. Lockers in locker rooms have traditionally been key or coin lockers, or lockers that are secured with a combination lock such as a dudley or Master lock. Newer locker rooms are automated, with robotic machines to store clothes, with such features as a fingerprint scanner to enroll and for later retrieval. Locker rooms in some waterparks, such as Schwaben Quellen, use a microchip equipped wristband. Thus the same wristband that unlocks the lockers can be used to purchase food and drinks and other items in the waterpark. This system was adopted because bathing suits are not permitted in Schwaben Quellen, and there is thus no place for a person to put keys for a locker.

Fitting rooms

Fitting rooms or dressing rooms are rooms where people try on clothes, such as in a department store. The rooms are usually individual rooms in which only one person tries on clothes. People do not always use the fitting rooms to change (to change implies to remove one set of clothes and put on another). Sometimes a person just wants to try on one set of clothes over their other clothes, but would still like to do this in private because they choose not to put clothes on and off over other clothes in public. Thus fitting rooms may be used for changing, or just for fitting without changing (i.e. trying on additional clothing).

Green rooms

A green room is a room in which people change clothes for performance, theatre, or the like. Some believe that the term "green room" may have originated from the old days of outdoor theatre when people would change right behind the stage backdrop, on the grass behind the backdrop, which would hide them from view of the outdoor audience. Green rooms are usually located backstage, but sometimes under the stage, or to the side. When they are located under the stage they are often also called "trap rooms" because many stage setups, especially for magicians, involve a trap door that goes to a room under the stage. In a magic trick, a performer may drop down into the trap room, through the trap door, onto a padded surface like a mattress, to "disappear" and change into another outfit. Green rooms are usually not separated by gender, because performers often operate "like one big happy family" and help each other change. For example, a husband and wife team of circus performers might need to "rig" each other up with various wiring, cabling, safety harnesses, and the like. The green room at Canterbury Theatre in Canada's Wonderland is a large co-ed space in which large numbers of people are usually in various states of undress, including being completely naked at times. Although there are often small gender separated spaces in some green rooms (to meet building codes, etc.), the changing activities of a green room typically spill out into the main area back stage, where there are dressmakers, tailors, and other staff, frantically working on getting everyone ready for the next production. There is little or no time or place for modesty in a green room where "the show must go on" and everyone works together like a team to help each other get dressed, regardless of gender differences. A green room is one of the few changerooms in which nakedness of mixed-gender groups is usually acceptable.

Cleansing stations

Traditionally, before the advent of modern plumbing, there existed a number of cleansing stations for cleansing one's clothes and one's person. Cleansing stations were separated by gender, and combined the function of cleaning clothes with cleaning of the body. The closest modern equivalent would be a combination Laundromat plus locker room with showers. Interestingly, each of the 2nd floor swimming pool locker rooms at the Delta Chelsea hotel in Toronto has two coin operated washing machines and two full size (30A, 208V) electric clothes dryers. Thus a person can put their clothes in the washing machine, and have a shower or relax in the sauna while they wait for the clothes washing cycle to complete.

Changing Room security

Because of the privacy afforded by changingrooms, they create a problem in the tradeoff between security and privacy, wherein it may be possible for crime to be perpetrated by persons using the cover of privacy to sell drugs, or steal clothing from a department store. Some department stores have security cameras in the changing rooms (See Phil Patton's article "You don't have to smile", excerpt included in Netcam Privacy Issues). Some department store fitting rooms post signs such as "keep your underwear on because you are being monitored by security". Other fitting rooms have staff to count out clothing samples and count them back in after each customer is done.

Communal changing rooms are less of a problem that fitting rooms, because there is not total privacy. In particular, the perpetrator of a crime would not know whether or not other users might be undercover police or security guards. Also modern changingrooms often have labyrinth style entrances that have no door, so that persons of the other gender cannot see in, but security can walk in at any time without the sound of an opening door alerting persons inside. Washrooms in which changing clothes is merely a secondary purpose often also have such labyrinth openings. It is this possibility for persons to suddenly appear without warning, that often makes modern style changing rooms and washrooms safe from drug dealing and other crime. Many washrooms have security cameras, not in the toilet stalls, of course, but only in the main area with a view of the sinks and possibly the urinals from a viewing angle that would only show the back of a user. However, when a washroom is located near a fountain, wading pool, or the like, and is likely to be used for changing clothes, some believe that washroom surveillance cameras would be a violation of privacy. Therefore a noiseless entry (e.g. doorless labyrinth) is often considered the best form of security.

Trends in changing room design

Towards the end of the 1900s changing rooms evolved from almost always communal (though gender segregated) changing rooms toward changerooms that provided individual privacy, not just gender privacy. By the late 1990s changing rooms had evolved toward more "family" changerooms in which a spouse could assist an elderly person of the other gender, or in which parents could help children of the other gender change.

More recently, the trends of the late 1900s are being reversed. The pendulum had swung from group (gender) privacy to individual privacy. The late 1990s was the "me genderation". As of 2004 the pendulum is swinging back toward open-style changing rooms.

This trend is partially motivated by emergency preparedness and homeland defence, terrorism, and the military influence on urban architecture. In the army, changrooms are almost always open, and they usually do not even have stalls around, or dividers between toilets. As we design urban architecture to withstand terrorist attacks, changing rooms are being designed for "dual use". In particular, many emergency planners are considering the possible use of changing rooms for emergency decontamination, the first and most important step of which is clothing removal. "Open concept" changing rooms are easier for emergency workers to supervise, in such a mass decontamination scenario.

Additionally, as was necessary in the first half of the 1900s (due in part to World War 1, and 2), civilians, especially men, needed to be prepared for the less-than-private conditions of the army. It was felt, therefore, that overcoming the initial fear of changing in front of others (at least in a gender-segregated space) was a necessary part of social development and socialization that all individuals should adapt to.

As the world became "less military" and less on the verge of war, during the late 1900s, the need to train able bodied men through sports, and through adjusting to less than total privacy, was no longer present. However, Today we see a return to the need for able bodied men, and now for women as well, to be socialized into accepting their own body image, and learning how to deal with their body differences. Additionally, with recent bioterror attacks such as the anthrax scares, many people have been traumatized by communal stripdowns.

Many feel that by getting used to our bodies in day-to-day life, and acclimatizing to changing together in groups (though limited to gender-specific groups), people will not be so traumatized by future mass decontamination. Additionally, large number of popup changing rooms (tents, metal frame articulated structures, inflatable structures) are being designed, built, and deployed for emergency use. These portable and temporary changing rooms are divided down the middle. Men change on one side, and women on the other. These futuristic emergency changing rooms are largely influencing the design of their more permanent counterparts. In an anthrax scare when a person is commanded to undress, by police in biohazard suits and riot gear, there will be no opportunity to find a private stall. Private stalls use more space, are harder to clean (decontamination) and do not allow emergency responders to properly supervise the changing of clothes.

Additionally, new innovations in locker design eliminate the rows of lockers that prevent supervision of the otherwise large open spaces. Between rows of lockers, people can hide and deal drugs, or store contraband in lockers. Thus employee locker rooms are almost always now of the "open concept" design.

There are only two secure methods of storing employees' clothing and personal effects, overhead LOCKERBASKETS and floor lockers. In industries where the employees work in conditions of heat, dampness, dirt or contaminants, such as mining, foundries, steel mills, glass plants, paper mills, environmental remediation etc., it is imperative that, between shifts, the employees work clothes be suspended full length in moving currents of warm air to properly dry and aerate the clothing and render it comfortable to wear during the next shift.

Learn more about changing rooms.

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The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (  8/6/05 Modified by Apparel Search.

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