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The Uniform Project

April 11, 2010

Sustainable fashion‘ is such a contentious term. What exactly is it? Eco, green, ethical, organic? At risk of sounding stupid, what does all that really mean? Recycled clothing? Biodegradable? Patterns cut out of cloth in the most cloth-efficient method?

Oscar de la Renta considers it “a commitment to the traditional techniques, and not just the art, of making clothes.” Anya Hindmarch, the brain behind the ‘I am not a plastic bag‘ initiative, defines it as, “ideally… locally sourced materials that don’t pollute in their creation or demise (preferably recycled) and with limited transportation to achieve the completed product.

Fairly diverse definitions; to each their own. We see the fashion world jump onto the latest bandwagon – the electric car, and watch designers and celebrities strut all forms of sustainable fashion. In spite of all that, what I’m rather sure of, is that Sheena Matheiken’s idea of sustainable fashion, will almost never hit the runways.

The Uniform Project, founded by Matheiken, is her bid to “wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion.” She has 7 identical dresses, designed by her creative partner Eliza Starbuck. These dresses have been specially designed for seasonal versatility in NYC – not just in the climate but in fashion as well. In the past 345 days, Matheiken has posted daily photographs of herself in the dress, which has been reinvented “with layers, accessories and all kinds of accouterments, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies.” Apart from cash, supporters can donate dibs and drabs to the cause,  which she will attempt to incorporate into her daily wear. These fashionable pieces will subsequently be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the fund.

This project complements the Akanksha Foundation, which is a grassroots movement that is revolutionising education in India. All proceeds at the end of 365 days will go towards their school project, to help fund uniforms and other education-related expenses for the students who live in the slums.

Check it out soon, because there’s only 20 more days left to catching Matheiken’s outfit changes!

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