I was particularly heartened to come across the recently launched mash-up of fashion and fundraising: The Uniform Project in which a pledge has been made to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion.
Actually there are seven identical dresses – one for each day of the week. Every day the dress is artfully reinvented via layers and accessories and images posted online in the effort to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation – a grassroots movement that is revolutionizing education in India.
The project’s brainchild Sheena Matheiken recollects “I was raised and schooled in
India where uniforms were a mandate in most public schools. Despite the imposed conformity, kids always found a way to bend the rules and flaunt a little personality… Girls obsessed over bangles, bindis and bad hairdos. Peaking through the sea of uniforms were the idiosyncrasies of teen style and individual flare. I now want to put the same rules to test again, only this time I’m trading in the Catholic school fervor
for an eBay addiction and relocating the school walls to this wonderful place called
It all made me reflect on my past delvings into fashion and connectivity which I covered in my paper Fashion, Humanism and the Online Environment (1.8MB). Written in 2005 I’m the first to admit that the dialogue has definately moved on. However at the time Web 2.0 was still a fresh enough topic to win me a junior faculty travel award to present at the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes conference in the US. (disclosure: my main driver for submitting the proposal was the thought of a two week escape from the excrutiating heat of high Indian summer – to which, as a New Zealander, I was entirely unaccustomed.)
The Uniform Project goes a long way in exemplifing my suggestion:
“through the internet, fashion holds the power to create space for social, cultural and altruistic discourse… the multi-layering of internet based communication affords the opportunity to participate in the arena of commerce while remaining culturally relevant, responsible and active.”
While I was more speaking about fashion brands leveraging cultural connectivity, The Uniform Project is instead an online fundraising initiative masterfully leveraging fashion itself. Great to see the Manolo on the other foot!