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Title:
STORAGE UNIT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2000/072720
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention relates to a storage unit (10), and a support rod (24) adapted for use with the storage unit. In particular, the invention relates to a storage unit for items of clothing such as women's lingerie or men's underwear. The storage unit comprises a first walled structure (12) having side walls (14), a base (16) and an open top. A plurality of support locations (22) are located along opposite side walls (18) of the first walled structure. A number of spaced apart, elongate support rods (24) span across the first walled structure between opposite side walls with an end of each rod (53) supported releasably at the support location (22). Each support rod carries attachment means which are attachable releasably to items of clothing. The items of clothing can be suspended from the support rods, in side by side relationship, within the first walled structure.

Inventors:
Erasmus, Wanda-michelle (6 Sands Close, Highveld Ext 7, 0169 Centurion Golf Estate, ZA)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2000/000703
Publication Date:
December 07, 2000
Filing Date:
May 25, 2000
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Erasmus, Wanda-michelle (6 Sands Close, Highveld Ext 7, 0169 Centurion Golf Estate, ZA)
International Classes:
A45C13/03; A45C13/16; A47G25/32; A47G25/48; (IPC1-7): A45C5/12
Foreign References:
US2064046A
US2681128A
US3141535A
US2918997A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Gilson, David Grant (Spoor and Fisher, Rochester Place 173 Rivonia Road, Morningside, Sandto, P.O.Box 2024 Craighall, 41312, ZA)
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Claims:
CLAIMS:
1. A storage unit comprising: a first walled structure having side walls. a base and an open top ; a plurality of support locations located along at least one of the side walls of the first walled structure; and a plurality of spaced apart, elongate support rods spanning across the first walled structure between opposite side walls with an end of each rod supported releasably at the support location and with each support rod carrying a plurality of spaced apart attachment means which are attachable releasably to items of clothing; whereby items of clothing can be suspended from the support rods, within the first walled structure.
2. A storage unit according to claim 1 including support members extending along opposite side walls of the first walled structure and wherein at least one support member includes the support locations.
3. A storage unit according to claim 2 wherein the support locations are provided by spaced holes or recesses in the support members themselves into which the ends of the support rods can be fitted.
4. A storage unit according to claim 2 wherein the support members carry movable runners adapted to support the ends of the support rods.
5. A storage unit according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the first walled structure is an opentopped, rectangular box formed by four side walls and a base wall.
6. A storage unit according to any one of claims 1 to 5 wherein the first walled structure is an opentopped, rectangular box formed by four side walls. and the base is defined by lower edges of the side walls.
7. A storage unit according to any one of the preceding claims including a lid for the first walled structure.
8. A storage unit according to claim 7 wherein the lid is a roller door receivable, when in an open position, within the walls of the first walled structure.
9. A storage unit according to any one of the preceding claims comprising: a second walled structure, connected to the first walled structure, and having side walls, a base and an open top defining a compartment; anchoring means located at or near the base inside the compartment; and an elongate, flexible support connected to the anchoring means and having spaced apart retaining means thereon; wherein the compartment is adapted to accommodate the flexible support in folded or rolled up form, and the spaced apart retaining means engage spaced apart points on items of clothing.
10. A storage unit according to claim 9 wherein the second walled structure is detachable from the first walled structure.
11. A storage unit according to either claim 9 or 10 wherein the elongate, flexible support is a sheet.
12. A support rod for supporting an item of clothing, the support rod comprising : an elongate member; and at least one attachment means removably carried on the elongate member and attachable releasably to the item of clothing; wherein the elongate member includes a retaining portion defining an opening for retaining, in a pinchfit manner, a portion of the item of clothing such that the drop of the item of clothing hanging from the attachment means is reduced.
13. A support rod according to claim 12 wherein the retaining portion is resiliently flexible.
14. A support rod according to claim 13 wherein the retaining insert includes a neoprene strip defining at least a portion of the opening.
15. A support rod according to any one of claims 12 to 14 including a hook connected detachably to the elongate member, for hanging the support rod from a stand.
16. A support rod according to any one of claims 12 to 15 wherein the attachment means is a clip, resiliently biased to a closed position.
17. A support rod according to any one of claims 12 to 16 wherein ends of the elongate member are adapted to be supported releasably at support locations in a storage unit according to any one of claims 1 to 11. 18.
18. A storage unit substantially as herein described with reference to either of the embodiments illustrated in Figures 1 to 3 or Figures 4 to 6 of the accompanying drawings.
19. A support rod substantially as herein described with reference to either of the embodiments illustrated in Figures 1 to 3 or Figures 4 to 6 of the accompanying drawings.
Description:
STORAGE UNIT FIELD OF THE INVENTION THIS invention relates to a storage unit, and a support rod adapted for use with the storage unit. In particular, the invention relates to a storage unit for items of clothing such as women's lingerie or men's underwear.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Women's lingerie is usually stored in a drawer or on a cupboard shelf. Uniess the various items are carefully and neatly placed in storage it is then often difficult to locate specific items. Added to this, it is not always easy to stack certain items, such as underwired brassieres, neatly and compact without damaging them.

It is an object of this invention to provide a lingerie storage unit which addresses these problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a storage unit comprising : a first walled structure having side walls, a base and an open top; a plurality of support locations located along at least one of the side walls of the first walled structure; and -a plurality of spaced apart, parallel and elongate support rods spanning across the first walled structure between opposite side walls with an end of each rod supported releasably at the support location and with each support rod carrying a plurality of spaced apart attachment means which are attachable releasably to items of clothing; whereby items of clothing can be suspended from the support rods, within the first walled structure.

Preferably the storage unit includes support members extending along opposite side walls of the first walled structure and wherein at least one support member includes the support locations. Conveniently the support locations are provided by spaced holes or recesses in the support members themselves into which the ends of the support rods can be fitted. Optionally the support members carry movable runners adapted to support the ends of the support rods.

Typically the first walled structure is an open-topped, rectangular box formed by four side walls and a base wall. Alternatively the base is defined by lower edges of the side walls.

Ideally the storage unit includes a lid for the first walled structure. In a preferred embodiment, the lid is a roller door receivable, when in an open position, within the walls of the first walled structure.

In one embodiment of the invention, the storage unit comprises: a second walled structure, connected to the first walied structure, and having side walls, a base and an open top defining a compartment; anchoring means located at or near the base inside the compartment; and an elongate, flexible support connected to the anchoring means and having spaced apart retaining means thereon; wherein the compartment is adapted to accommodate the flexible support in folded or rolled up form, and the spaced apart retaining means engage spaced apart points on items of clothing. Preferably the flexible support is a sheet.

Ideally the second walled structure is detachable from the first walled structure.

According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a support rod for supporting an item of clothing, the support rod comprising: an elongate member; and at least one attachment means removably carried on the elongate member and attachable releasably to the item of clothing; wherein the elongate member includes a retaining portion defining an opening for retaining, in a pinch-fit manner, a portion of the item of clothing such that the drop of the item of clothing hanging from the attachment means is reduced.

Conveniently the attachment means is a clip, resiliently biased to a closed position.

Preferably the retaining portion is resiliently flexible. Ideally the retaining insert includes a neoprene strip defining at least a portion of the opening.

In one embodiment the support rod includes a hook connected detachably to the elongate member, for hanging the support rod from a stand. Typically the ends of the elongate member are adapted to be supported releasably at support locations in a storage unit according to the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The invention will now be described in more detail, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 shows an exploded, perspective view of a storage unit according to a first embodiment of the invention ; Figure 2 shows a cross-section at the line 2-2 in Figure 1 and illustrates the unit in use; Figure 3 shows a partial perspective view illustrating the operation of the second walled structure, connected to the first walled structure, according to the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ; Figure 4 shows a perspective view of a storage unit, with a lid in an open position, according to a second embodiment of the invention: Figure 5 shows an exploded, partial cross-section at line 5-5 in Figure 4, with the lid in a closed position; and Figure 6 shows a perspective view of a support rod according to the embodiment shown in Figure 4.

Embodiments of the invention are described in detail in the following passages of the specification which refer to the accompanying drawings. The drawings, however, are merely illustrative of how the invention might be put into effect. so that the specific form and arrangement of the features shown is not to be understood as limiting on the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Figure 1 shows an exploded perspective view of a lingerie storage unit 10 according to this invention. The unit 10 includes a first walled structure 12 in the form of a rectangular, in this case generally square, open-topped box which has side walls 14 and a base formed by a base wall 16. The first walled structure 12 is conveniently formed as a one-piece injection moulding of plastics material. The dimensions of the structure are such that it can be accommodated within a normal drawer of a dressing table or chest or drawers, or on a shelf in a cupboard.

Secured by any suitable means to opposite side walls 14 of the first walled structure 12 are support members 18 in the form of channels formed of a thermoplastics material. The inner leg 20 of each channel is formed with spaced apart slots 22, as shown, with the slots 22 of the support member on one side of the structure aligned with the slots 22 of the support member on the opposite side.

The unit 10 also includes a number of support rods 24. Each rod is of elongate shape and may be of moulded plastics construction. The rods may alternatively be lengths of steel or aluminium. Mounted on each rod are three spaced apart attachment means in the form of spring-loaded clips 26. The length of each rod is such that it can span across the structure with its ends located in selected slots 22. It will be understood that the rods are individually removable from the first walled structure 12. this being achieved merely by lifting the rod ends out of the slots.

In use, items 27 of lingerie can be suspended from the individual rods merely by engaging the clips 26 with spaced apart points on the items in question. For instance, a brassiere can be suspended from a rod by engaging the outer clips 26 with the side straps thereof and the centre clip 26 with a central part of the brassiere joining the cups. Similarly, a pair of panties can be suspended from a rod by engaging the outer clips with the sides of the waist thereof and the central clip with a central part of the waist. The fact that the rods can be removed individually from the first walled structure 12 facilitates the engagement of the clips 26 with the items of lingerie. After each item of lingerie has been suspended from its rod, the rod is replaced in the structure by inserting its ends into the slots 22 as described above.

It is believed that the unit 10, as described above, will considerably facilitate neat and compact storage of lingerie items 27, as shown in Figure 2. In the illustrated embodiment, it will be understood that the rods 24, and hence the lingerie items, will be located at a fixed spacing from one another, as determined by the spacing of the slots. The spacing is chosen to allow the user an adequate view of each rod and of the item of lingerie 27 suspended thereon. Once the user has selected a particular lingerie item, the relevant rod is withdrawn from the first walled structure 12 to enable the item to be detached from the clips 26, whereafter the rod can be replace.

It will however be understood that the number of items of lingerie which can be stored in the unit 10 is limited by the dimensions of the first walled structure 12 and the spacing of the slots. With a view to providing more compact storage the invention also envisages an embodiment in which the support members 18 are in the form of rails mounted to the opposing side walls of the structure. A series of runners is provided on each rail, each runner providing a support location for the end of a rod. The support locations may for instance be in the form of slots, corresponding to the slots 20 described above, into which the rod ends can be dropped. Aiternatively, the support locations may be openings in the runners into which the rod ends can be inserted, the rods being sufficiently flexible to allow such insertion to take place. The runners themselves are capable of moving freely along the length of the rails.

With this arrangement the runners, and with them the rods and items of lingerie suspended thereon, can be moved back and forth as required to provide the user with a clear view of the particular items of lingerie suspended thereon and to allow for withdrawal and replacement of individual rods. The rods can be pushed close together to permit the maximum number of lingerie items to be accommodated.

The invention also envisages that the first walled structure 12 be provided with a lid locatable over the upper edges of the side walls 14. The lid may be a separate item or it may be hinged to the first walled structure 12. This feature will be particularly useful in a travel context, since the resulting unit will be in the form of a closed box which can merely be uplifted from the drawer or the like in which it is normally used in the home and placed in a suitcase. At the travel destination, the unit can be left in the suitcase, or uplifted and again placed in a drawer or on a cupboard shelf to provide convenient access to the lingerie items.

Figures 1 and 3 also illustrate an additional feature of the unit 10. As shown in these Figures, the unit 10 includes a second structure 30 which is connected to the first walled structure 12 to form a rectangular compartment 32 alongside that in which the lingerie items are stored. Spanning at a low level across the compartment 32 is a rod 34 to which one end of a flexible, rectangular sheet support member 36, typically of fabric material, is attached. The length of the sheet member 36 is somewhat greater than the length of a pair of outstretched stockings or pantihose. At its free end, the sheet member 36 is formed into a tubular compartment 38 which accommodates, for instance, a volume of potpourri or other scented material. Elastic bands 40 are sewn transversely to the sheet material 36, at intervals, to form a series of elastic loops 42 at positions towards the opposite ends of the sheet.

In use, with the sheet material 36 outstretched as shown in Figure 3 items 44 of hosiery such as stockings or pantihose can be supported on the sheet. This is achieved by slipping upper and lower portions of the hosiery items under the elastic loops 42 so that the items are laid out over the sheet 36. As the various items will all be spaced laterally apart from one another, it is a simple matter to select an appropriate item or to inspect individual items for defects such as snags or ladders. When the hosiery inspection and/or selection is complete, the sheet 36 can be rolled or folded up, together with the attached hosiery items, and placed compact in the compartment 32, as shown in Figure 1.

It will be understood that in those embodiments where the compartment 32 is provided, this will be on the front of the unit 10 so that the sheet 36 can be stretched out in front of the dressing table, chest of drawers, cupboard or the like. In a modified version of the invention, the compartment 32 may be a separate item which can be attached to the first walled structure 12.

Figures 4 to 6 illustrate a preferred embodiment of the invention. Parts which are similar to those described with reference to Figures 1 to 3 above, are given the same reference numerals. As shown in Figure 4, the storage unit 10 includes a first walled structure 12 in the form of a rectangular box which has side walls 14 and a base wall 16. As shown more clearly in Figure 6, the side walls of the storage unit increase in height towards a rear of the storage unit.

This provides greater hanging depth for clothes which are attached to support rods located towards the rear of the storage unit. The storage unit is of moulded plastics construction. At a front end of the storage unit there is a handle 19 which facilitates the transport of the storage unit.

The storage unit includes a lid in the form of a roller door 50 receivable, when in an open position (as shown in Figure 4), within the walls of the storage unit.

Figure 4 shows the roller door in the open position, thereby providing convenient access to the support rods 24. Figure 5 the roller door in a closed position and more clearly shows how the roller door can be slidably received within the walls of the storage unit. The roller door may be retained in the closed position by means of a lock (not shown) in order to secure the contents of the storage unit. The roller door is made up of links of a moulded plastics material as shown in the exploded portion on Figure 5, but it should be understood that the roller door could be made of another material, for instance aluminium.

The storage unit has a plurality of support locations 22 positioned evenly along the inside of two opposite side walls 14 of the first walled structure 12. The support locations are in the form of evenly spaced recesses on the inside of the side walls. The insides of the opposite side walls thereby form support members 18 for supporting the rods. Each recess is adapted to releasably receive an end 53 of a support rod 24. As shown more clearly in Figure 5, the height of the support locations 22 above the base increases towards the rear of the storage unit, thereby making it easier to access each of the support rods and to insert or remove items of clothing.

Each support rod 24 comprises an elongate member 52 made form a plastics material with two attachment means in the form of spring-loaded clips 54 removably mounted on the elongate member. It should be understood that the elongate member could be made from another resiliently flexible material, including aluminium or sprung steel. The spring-loaded clips can be attached releasably to items of clothing (not shown), and are overmoulded in a plastics material to ensure that there are no rough edges which may snag the items of clothing. The clips are biased to a closed position by the spring. The ends 53 of the elongate member are tapered to be received in the support locations 22. The elongate member includes a resiliently flexible retaining portion 56 defining an opening 58 for retaining, in a pinch-fit manner, a portion of an item of clothing such that the drop of the item of clothing hanging from the clips is reduced. In use, the item of clothing is attached to the support rod by means of the clips 54 so that it hangs from the support rod. The lowest portion of the item of clothing is then inserted into the opening 58 which retains the clothing in a pinch-fit manner. This effectively folds the item of clothing in half and prevents longer items from dragging on the base wall 16 of the storage unit and becoming entangled in other items of clothing or becoming damaged. The retaining portion 56 is made of a neoprene material in order to improve the grip on the item of clothing. It should be understood that the item of clothing could be folded more than once before being inserted into the opening 58.

In a preferred embodiment of the support rod, there is provided a hook formed from a plastics material and connected detachably to the elongate member 52.

Typically the hook will be made from a plastics material and will include a frangible portion at the join with the elongate member which may be easily broken in order to remove the hook from the elongate member. It should be understood that the hook could be made from any suitable material and could be attached to the elongate member by any detachable means. The hook may be used to hang the support rod from a standard rack in a store. Items of clothing may then be displayed and sold, already attached to the support rod.

Once purchased, the hook may be removed easily from the support rod prior to it being located in the storage unit.

It will also be understood that although specific mention has been made of convenient storage of women's lingerie, the storage unit of the invention can equally well be used to store items of men's underwear, such as underpants, socks and the like, as well as other suitable items of clothing.




 
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