DRESS TO LEARN
THE TEACHING DRESS
“The purpose of fashion can be as simple as: You need clothing to maneuver in the world”, expressed Amy Smilovic, founder of ‘Tibi’. Growing up in India, I witnessed the dubious distinction in literacy rates solely based on financial stratifications. Therefore, this endeavor was geared towards fashion being a teaching vehicle for the underprivileged who may not have easy or quality access to an education. Through a few interactive, creative and fun exercises that are integrated into the construction of this dress, I aspire to engage students who may otherwise be averse to learning and equip them with a sense of confidence by teaching them a universal language- English. This will help them take a step forward towards taking on the world and becoming global citizens.
Through the technique of fabric printing with a strong juxtaposition of black and white, I have incorporated crosswords and word searches to teach vocabulary, as well as used words printed on the pockets to teach synonyms. There is a surprise element of flaps unfolding within these pockets holding hidden answers. Extensive research was done to attain certain learning outcomes, including the choice of words used in the games which was dictated through ethnographic research. I have therefore chosen to use locally spoken colloquial language in the games, in order to give students an opportunity to practice English in their daily lives. Though each of these word puzzles are designed to be answered in English some of the clues are in ‘Hindi’, the more familiar native language, used as a hand holding mechanism. This will enable the user to read with ease, till he or she transitions to learning a higher level of English.
The aesthetic sensibilities of the dress are futuristic and modernized, being aspirational in nature for the wearer (who has till now worn more traditional, local wear) to now participate in an international community.