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Fashion & Philanthropy: 365 Dresses in 1

Activist Sheena Matheiken and designer Eliza Starbuck have teamed up to do a 180 on Tim Gunn’s “One day you’re in and the next you’re out” fashion slogan, 365 style. Matheiken and Starbuck are revolutionizing fashion’s fickle reputation by capializing on today’s go-green-environmental-crazed world, creating: The Uniform Project.

The Uniform Project, launched in May 2009, is Matheiken’s pledge to wear the same dress for an entire year, a creative 365 day fundraiser. Proceeds go to the Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots movement that is revolutionizing education in India. At the end of the year, all contributions will go toward Akanksha’s School Project to fund uniforms and other educational expenses for children living in Indian slums. Matheiken contributes $1 for every day she wears the dress. And through her daily blogging, she encourages readers and fellow bloggers to contribute as well.

Inspired by Matheiken’s childhood in India where uniforms were a mandate in most public schools, Matheiken and Starbuck are raising more than funds for children; they are raising awareness about the Akanksha Foundation and about the more than 7.5 million children who cannot attend school due to their poverty and unsuitable living conditions. Currently, about $360 is spent on every child in the public school system in India. About 80% of students drop out before they reach the 10th grade. The Akanksha Foundation has pledged to help children of the slums afford the education that every child deserves.

Pattern making
Pattern making

Matheiken reveals her experience wearing a uniform in Indian schools on the Uniform Project’s website. “Despite the imposed conformity, kids always found a way to bend the rules and flaunt a little personality. Boys rolled up their sleeves, wore over-sized swatches, and hiked up their pants to show off their high-tops. 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 the internet.”

Matheiken and Starbuck mix fashion and philanthropy by transforming an everyday, plain uniform into an international movement that promotes sustainable culture. A cute and creative monthly calendar view of Matheiken’s daily outfit allows followers to instantly scan the different styles. Interactive for fans, the founders style the uniform from Plain Jane to Fasion Diva, each with a fun and fiting title.

The answer to that question everyone wants to know — how does Matheiken wear the same clothing every day? Starbuck, designer of the uniform, made 7 identical garments, one for each day, so Matheiken’s hygiene is not compromised. Each day of the week is a different piece of fabric, a clean inspiration for Matheiken and Starbuck to reinvent the uniform with the use of accessories and other clothing items that are vintage, handmade, or recycled.

A simple idea, but certainly innovative, Matheiken believes the daily routine and 365 day pledge is addictive for viewers, “making it a great platfrom for fundraising.”

And it seems to be working. The Uniform Project raised over $10,000 in their first three months of operation. In February, 2010, The Uniform Project had raised over $53,000, allowing 149 students to stay in school, as the tally on the top of their website counts. In addition to monetary donations, fans donate vintage, handmade, or pre-owned accessories, or even just contribute a comment of motivation for Matheiken. Join in the fashion or philanthropy by supporting the cause at – MUNIA ISLAM

To find out more and for ways to help out:

The Uniform Project
Twitter| The Uniform Project
Facebook| The Uniform Project
The Akanksha Foundation


The Uniform Project
The Akanksha Foundation

4 thoughts on “Fashion & Philanthropy: 365 Dresses in 1

  1. She is so incredibly inspiring, I need the basic black dress that makes me feel awesome. Pattern anyone?

  2. Without the “the” in the link, your site mis-directs to a band.

    The Site is “theuniformproject” not “Uniformproject”

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