< U.P. Blog

Making the Dress: The Epiphany

When I first met Sheena in 2008, I had come to the conclusion that fashion made a better creative outlet than a meaningful career. At that time, I had made the decision to walk away from the fashion industry and the consumer culture it fueled. So when Sheena told me she was looking for someone who could make her dress, naturally, I was hesitant. But after she explained the concept behind the Uniform Project, I was excited at the prospect of using my skills as a fashion designer for a charitable cause that would also promote sustainable culture.
Soon after the U.P launched, people started asking where they could get the U.P dress. At first we shrugged off the request. I still did not want to get into the business of making or selling clothing and I was wary of taking on production on a commercial level. But the inquiries kept coming, along with amazing stories from fans that had started their own Little Black Dress challenges and who wanted to wear our dress for their own causes. We had women from around the world- Brazil, Russia, Uganda, Australia and more – who wanted to take the U.P challenge to raise money for their local schools. There was even a pregnant woman who vowed not to buy anything during her 9 months but instead would wear a Little Black Dress to raise funds for the March of Dimes; we had one woman challenge us to an LBD styling duel for her own cash donations; and there were plenty of women who were inspired by Sheena’s daily styling and simply wanted our dress so they could stop waking up stumped in the morning wondering what to wear. In general, there seemed to be growing demand for our dress as women made the shift to save their money and get creative with what they already had. That was the epiphany: if we could offer women a dress that functions as a versatile base palette for their personal style and creativity while giving them the opportunity to support a good cause, then maybe looking into production wasn’t such a bad idea… If by buying our one dress, women would forego buying five cheap and trendy dresses this year, that would be a big feat. Keeping that much junk out of the landfills alone would make production worthwhile to me, not to mention the funds that could be raised world wide by these individuals through the U.P model. Making the dress was starting to appeal more to me…
To be continued.


Calis says:
What an incredible, thought-provoking project! I am hoping that a pattern becomes available so that I, along with many others, can participate in "Making the Dress".
2010-06-25 01:50:02
Rita says:
This project makes my heart sing. I appreciate every angle about it; the creative challenge, raising money for poverty-stricken children in India, and the whimsy of posting somethiing new and fresh every day. As a parochial school girl, I find being grown-up and having to choose something new and interesting every day isn't always fun. I would love to buy your dress. It would be meaningful to me on so many levels.
2010-06-17 09:46:48
Kim says:
I am so excited to learn about this project. I happened onto the web-site after seeing an article about it on my homepage today. I am a huge believer in the power of accessories to define one's style. Each day I go in my closet and struggle to pull together a neutral wardrobe to showcase my accessories. Having the LBD would make my busy life with four children so much easier!! I agree with others who have suggested making the dress in different hem lengths and having a pattern as well as the ability to buy the dress ready-made would be terrific. Either way, money to a good cause and lots of happy, liberated women!! As a former Catholic school-girl, uniforms don't scare me at all!
2010-05-03 12:42:18
Cattie says:
I am so excited about the possibility of buying the dress. I just hope it's not too expensive; I'm on a tight budget. And I hope that there will be an option in my size - I'm on the chubby side. Other than those few worries, bring on the dress. :) Also, as a novice-but-improving sewer, I am all for the idea of making the pattern available as well as the ready-made dress. That way, adjusting fit would be cake, and we could make several in different colors if we wanted. -c
2010-03-17 01:30:38
Sam says:
As a fellow designer/seamstress I would like to mention that if you were to sell the pattern, we could make the dress out of fabric in our stash, rather than having to produce new material for another dress...There are a lot of possibilities with what to do with this potential opportunity to expand your reach. I hope you find the outlet that suits your and the Uniform Project's goals!
2010-02-10 18:09:07
jolly M says:
Hi Eliza Congratulations, once again & hope "lil" Sachi is growing fast. Now that U've a little more time to watch & enjoy Sachi, I think this is the best time to plan , design & think about producing & marketting the now the famous LBD. Thedemand seems endless,for different sizes, lengths,textures- to suit different seasons & climates- as well as possibly even different designs. WoW !It would be a very expensive & fulltime work for the whole team BUT with a huge potential.And sure you can run it well wi8th some percentage of the income going to different deserving charities than Akanksha alone !Just a thought. All the best with whatever way the LBD will appear soon, I hope
2010-02-08 19:54:37
sydney says:
It would be great if I could have this dress! It's so cute :)
2010-02-06 15:03:57
scary. says:
one dress to rule them all.... my precious. :P
2010-02-06 13:46:08
Kate says:
I love the idea of the dress being available to everyone but i was hoping a dress pattern would be in the works for all the sewers out there. Also I took the pledge to buy nothing for a year last year and it was so fulfiling. I buy so much less stuff now even though the year is over.
2010-02-06 00:01:08
camille says:
Hello! The idea of selling the dress is great. With a version a little bit longer available would be fantastic! Camille
2010-02-05 11:51:32
Ann Marie says:
A new year and new era....you, Eliza, the UP, new baby, and marketing the dress. AT LAST! CONGRATS! Can't wait to walk around Brooklyn in MY UNIFORM!!!
2010-02-04 23:52:05
barbara says:
Nobody said that there can be only one. Going forward, Eliza might design more varieties of LBD's. Your customers are global; we live in different climates and have different preferences for sleeve and hem lengths and overall style. I would be thrilled to have several different styles of a uniform dress. Eliza, there is a future in this for you with the right marketing... (I vote for a pattern rather than ready-made garments because patterns are easier to distribute to your many fans world wide.)
2010-02-04 16:41:25
Leni says:
it's needless to say your project is absolutely brilliant, since so many before me have already done so. It's rather by coinsidence I stumbled apon your project, and immediatly found it completely awesome of seeing someone like Sheena, who has exactly the same idea's like mine. I buy all my clothes second hand, or fabricate something together myself. At that time I was doing a project of my own using recycled materials to create accesories. But your idea to raise money by creatively handling fashion just blowes me away. I am in great awe of your work, both the unstoppable creativity of lovely Sheena as for the brilliant dressdesign of Eliza. So yes I would love to get my hands on one of those dresses. I think it's a wonderful idea to save money, and lower our daily garbage belt we dump upon earth. Letting the dresses be made fairtrade by Indian women would be a great idea like -che said. ps: congratz with the little one. I hope it grows up to be as creative as its mum!
2010-02-04 13:13:18
gruvee says:
I am so looking forward to getting the dress! I have been wanting a uniform that's versatile, cute and practical for years now.. and this is the answer. I'm sick of purchasing new stuff and trying to figure out what works, would rather have one thing to work with!!!
2010-02-04 10:22:45
Natalie says:
I am most definitely very keen to have one (if not two) of your glorious dresses. It also occurred to me, in the short term at least, you should consider selling the pattern, for non commercial use of course. Thus, some of us could manufacture our own dresses out of the material of our choice! I imagine dress-making patterns must also be easier to manufacture and reproduce. Anyway, that's my two cents! I am a very big fan of the project and hope to see it continue beyond it's lifespan of a year, in one way or another!
2010-02-04 05:28:05
Stephanie says:
This has been such an inspiration to me as well. I have also pledged not to purchase any new clothing for one year. Instead I am shopping from my own closet and will borrow, trade, repurpose, rehab, make, deconstruct/reconstruct what I already have. I wanted to teach myself a new way of looking at my own style and to cut back on the mass consumption of which I have been so guilty. I love the LBD and I hope that it is sold very, very soon....I did make this purchase my ONE exception.
2010-02-03 15:58:06
barbara says:
Sheena has shown us that it is perfectly OK to wear the same thing everyday as a base. Why does our society have such a silly view about that? Anything that makes life easier or simpler is a good thing. I dream of having seven perfect little black dresses that I can just slip on and add my accessories. I am a jewelery freak so it would be perfect. Add a blazer or two to the mix and everything would be easy and elegant and appropriate for almost any occasion. I am slowing making the transition to that dream, thanks to the UP. I've been following the UP every day since it started and am a HUGE fan. I will truly miss it when it finishes. And please sell the dress or the pattern; I want it! barbara
2010-02-03 11:35:03
Linda says:
Hi, Eliza ~ I love the fact that you will be marketing Sheena's dress, because the simple truth is, it goes with everything! No wardrobe should be without such a basic staple, and Sheena has given us numerous ideas to get the creative juices flowing. If I could suggest a version that is perhaps knee length? Not all of us are young enough to pull off such an elevated hem! :-D And kudos to you for the fabulous, versatile design!
2010-02-03 10:13:14
a British Fan says:
Hi, no mention of a book, which would be a fabulous idea, and also a good way of fundraising, perhaps? I would definitely buy it!
2010-02-03 06:34:40
anne matheiken says:
Wow!!Congrats Eliza!!!!!!!!! It was so inspiring to read through this & personally I felt so proud of myself for having taken a pledge NOT TO BUY ANY CLOTHES for one full YR(May-April) because I feel I am supporting this awesome Project in the best way I can by putting away a dollar a day & also sacrificing my craving for shopping....All the Best & hugs to the lil angel.
2010-02-03 04:08:16
olivia says:
Thank you Eliza - you are so smart and creative and I really appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts about (re)producing the dress. I would most certainly pledge not to purchase 5 cheap and trendy dresses this year! Also, Congratulations on the little one!
2010-02-03 01:55:40
Payal says:
Hi Eliza, reading your words puts so much more character into the uniform. You should be very proud of what you've accomplished so far. And I'm sure it's not even half way there. Also - congratulations on becoming mamma Eliza to babygirl Sachi!
2010-02-03 00:11:32
Irene says:
I would love a uniform too. There are plenty of ideas coming from Sheena as to what we could be doing with it, and without the UP project, I would not have been experimenting as I am now with what I already have. If I had not seen the creatively we get from Sheena every day, I would definitely now have turned this shrug thing to wear as a scarf yesterday.
2010-02-02 23:03:26
Leah King says:
It's the next logical step in the project. May I suggest different fabrics/finishes to suit different climates and body shapes? I live in a tropical climate so a sleevless version would be perfect! Likewise, a stretch fabric would be fab for pregnant women.
2010-02-02 22:39:43
Lindi says:
Love the whole idea and want a pattern or else the LBD itself! congratulations you guys! from Lindi in BC Canada
2010-02-02 21:34:02
Linda says:
Very thought provoking. . .thank you!
2010-02-02 21:33:25
lostinnotation says:
I really enjoyed reading this especially all the women who have come forward to do their own project. Though my project is about 365 dresses I am trying to make it as sustainable as possible and have been inspired to jazz up, dress down and warm up some of the dresses so far with frilly tops, polo necks or just belts. I got a few dresses/ longish t-shirts and long gypsy skirts from a swap shop the other day and am going to dye one which is a bit marked and stitch ribbon and sequin into another to make it a bit more spangly. Thanks to both of you for such a wonderful project, look forward to reading the next installation
2010-02-02 21:26:59
beinzstalk says:
Great to get some background of the thinking and what goes on behind the scenes.
2010-02-02 21:06:04
Kemi Ingram says:
I absolutely love this. Can't wait to find out where and how we can get a UP dress :)
2010-02-02 20:51:54
che says:
Great idea. Good all around. Could you get it made in India as an initiative to improve their lives by paying them a decent wage? I am thinking women to help them get out of poverty.
2010-02-02 20:11:44
Sai says:
Its so wonderful to hear about how you guys have started with a small idea that has become a world wide phenomenon! I can't wait for the day that I can put on my LBD and rock the world! Hope you're doing well as a new mom!
2010-02-02 19:56:14