The Uniform Project

A good friend  recently sent me an urgent e-mail about  The Uniform Project  saying; “you have got to check out this website and this project, this girl is really talented, you will love it!”  So I did, I went to the website, I read all about Sheena and her project, watched the video and was immediately mesmerized, and  I knew right away I wanted to spread the word about it here on the blog.

A Little Bit About The Uniform Project

The Uniform Project is also a year-long fundraiser for 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. The idea is starting May 2009; Sheena Matheiken pledged to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. Here’s how it works: There are 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day I will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accouterments, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies.

the dress!

Since I knew right away I wanted to write and article for our blog, I began to do a little more digging around.   I  became a fan on Facebook and then I casually clicked on the post about Press links, only to find a page long list from the last year, everyone from CNN, Glamour, The Huffington Post, Etsy to the  New York Times and The Times of India have been raving about Sheena’s project all year long. I was in good company to want to spread the word about the UP! A lot has been said, so I thought it might be fun to sum it up here with  some of my favorite questions and answers I read in  that Press list from the past year. Especially in regards to Sheena’s interest in sustainability.

from: Yahoo Green

What were the green motives behind The Uniform Project?                                                                                                                             We’re sort of freshening up that dialogue of sustainability and fashion in a fun way. We’re trying to prove that, listen, sustainability isn’t this drab thing. It shouldn’t be seen as a limitation. I think this pertains to any aspect of our lives. It’s just getting creative with what we own, and giving things new life.                                                                                                                                                                                            We try to do that a lot. I wear belts as necklaces, for example. Give something new life as much as possible before throwing it away. We hope that it will inspire people to get more creative and shop their own closets.

just add some argyle socks!

from: ETSY 

How does this project fit in with handmade movement and reuse we associate with vintage?
ELIZA: When Sheena first approached me with the Uniform Project idea, I was hesitant because I had sort of vowed to not make “new” items ever again. I was recovering from working in the fashion industry. But after she explained her idea I got really excited at the prospect of promoting the wearing and reusing of vintage (a personal love for both of us) and how it would encourage people to refashion and hand craft things to wear. The stigma attached to the reuse and handmade culture is that it is frumpy or uninteresting, so we really wanted to challenge that notion and prove that sustainability is not only stylish but if done with some care and creativity, can even reach couture caliber. The overwhelming response and support we’ve received from the reuse and handmade community via accessory donations and blog shout-outs, I think, is a testament to this.

from: CNN: What do you hope this project does?

Matheiken: I want people to see the value in their closet. I’ve gotten people writing on my website that they went to a wedding and recreated an old dress and that it was so much more gratifying.

Depending on where you live, there are amazing vintage and thrift finds but if you don’t have that, there is still online. EBay is one of the greatest sources. The items are perfectly usable, and they are often one-of-a-kind, which is better than a mass-produced good. Why not use what’s already on the planet in perfect condition?

One of the sad side effects of fast fashion, aside from its enormous contribution to landfill, has been the decline of creativity and individualism in style,” observes Matheiken, whose accessory account has a few deposits from sustainable designers like Scully, who designed a cowl/scarf out of recycled packaging material and caution tape. “Our project is an attempt to bring back a sense of ownership and creative play into the act of dressing up – by proving there is greater joy and gratification to be found in reinventing what you already own or bringing new and unexpected life to things you thought were bygones.”

So far to date, the Uniform Project has raised $94,965.  That is 263 kids in school! Wow, what a truly amazing effort.  If you would like to contribute, you can do so here. If you are like me, wondering what is  next for the Uniform Project, sign up here for updates. And if you ever need a smile, just come on over here and watch this video, a recap of the year, it is fantastic!

1,298 total views, 7 views today

About Karen Lee

As a former Captain of Eco Etsy and one of the current leaders for the team, I am really excited to be hanging out with like minded team members to share ideas on how we can leave the least amount of carbon footprint.

I sell eco-handmade and vintage goodies in my Etsy shop and consult small business owners on Karen Lee Consulting where popular Etsy Starter Kit is sold. And as a retired Chiropractor, I share natural health news and green tips on Check out my past posts on Eco Etsy!


  1. What a great idea! And by a young person too. I’m so glad there are so many talented and smart young women and men who will lead our future. I don’t feel so bad now.

    I wonder if there’s anything like this in the U.S.?

  2. What a cool project and article…thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  3. This is fantastic, what an inspiring project and the figure they have raised in just a year is magnificent! Thanks so much for sharing this :-)

  4. I enjoyed reading this blog article. Thank you for sharing it and inspiring the rest of us to re-use. I love going to thrift stores, garage sales, and the like, and getting clothes and accessories that are new to me. This young girl magnified her calling by inspiring a new trend and did a very creative job of it! I love it!

  5. i cannot remember where i saw this originally ..but have enjoyed following the project for a long time now…inspiring