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India is the second most populated nation in the world, has a total population of 1.213billion citizens, which represents approximately 15% of the world population. Of this population, 70% live in rural areas spread through the country (censusindia.gov). Despite impressive growth in the economy over the past years, a vast population in India lives on less than a dollar a day that has contributed to the continued growth of slums next to its big cities. In addition, this growth is also a result of rapid growth in India’s population over the years. This has consequently created a population of slum dwellers who can barely afford basic commodities despite the government’s efforts to improve the infrastructure (goonj.org). The success of this project ensures an improvement in the living standards of slum dwellers.
A majority of people in the slums lives below the poverty line; this influences their ability to afford proper clothing. India with a record 18 national languages enjoys deep cultures enshrined on various traditions and religions (censusindia.gov). This, therefore, has ensured a lot of diversity in their dressing styles showing great sensitivity towards peoples individual classes. Moreover, the dressing code in India is much conservative with clothing covering most parts of the body considered decent especially for women. Like many other parts of the world, there has been social exchange influence on the styles of dressing especially in and around big cities. This has led to the creative combination of dressing patterns of Indians with that of the Western world. This is evident in the kind of dressing commonly with college students in major towns.
The type of clothing adopted for the project has to place a lot of consideration of the various traditions and religions in the population. There is also need for consideration of the effects of urbanization in the slums with a population consisting variant traditions. Gender also factors in as both men and women have their dressing modes, which enjoy modest recognition despite the cultural background. Women clothing, on one hand, is reliant on the local culture practiced, their religion and the climatic conditions of the region. In the slums despite being prone to social-cultural exchanges, a large section of the inhabitants still observe and maintain their cultural dressing code.
One of the most common dressing style by Indian women is the saree. This clothing brings a sense of grace to the one wearing it. The cloth made from a plain or embroidered strap of clothing with a length of about four to nine-yard piece of cloth is worn by draping it over the body in many unique styles (designdiary.nic.in). These, in turn, describe an individual’s status, age, religion and occupation. More common styles of draping include gujarati which requires taking the pallu backside and then across the front side of the shoulder. Bengali, on the other hand, involves draping a saree with no pleats. With Maharashtrian, a longer saree passes through the legs and is tucked at the back. This allows for greater movement something which slum dwellers rely on to earn a living.
Teenagers will mostly wear half sarees, which consists of a langa and a choli with the stole used as a saree (designdiary.nic.in). There has been extensive wearing of jeans and mixed with kurta bringing out a modern look and still maintaining their cultural heritage. Various occupations have also pushed women into abandoning traditional wear resulting to the wearing of skirts, trousers, and shirts enabling them to blend into the workplace. Sleeveless tops are also common with the urban teenage which is hardly present in native Indian clothing. Children on the other hand wear pavada, which is a half saree. This type of clothing is quite comfortable even in hot weather even though it appears covers one’s body extensively.
The native Indian dress for men includes variations of the dhoti and kurta although the trend has been changing significantly over the recent past. To wear a dhoti, one ties it at the waist passing it between the legs and finally taking it at the back. Lungi, either tucked around the waist or left hanging up to knee length, is also a customary garment for Indian men (designdiary.nic.in). Other common dressing styles for men include the sherwani normally worn during wedding ceremonies. Also very popular is the Punjabi suit, kameez, and the churidar. Kurta pajama although common with men, even women can wear them.
The clothes meant for this project should be sourced from Indian textile companies. A good example is the Chandani Textiles in Mumbai, which has a rich history in Indian textile manufacturing. This allows ease of adoption of the current trends in the society without having to initiate a change of style. This will too help the society in maintaining their cultural heritage since local textile industry has vast knowledge on the various styles and traditions. Also due to its high population, labor is readily available hence allowing manufacturing of the clothes at a cheaper cost than anywhere in the western world. This therefore helps to ensure that the clothes will reach the prospective market at the lowest price possible to attract more donations for example a price of $5-$10. However, the current ratio of 940women:1000men shows that gender should not be relied much on deciding the quantity commissioned for each since the margins are very close (censusindia.gov).
The most appropriate way to distribute the clothes would be through NGOs such as the GOONJ, which is one of the leading non-monetary resource agency. The organization has a program where they redistribute resource used clothes from the well-off in society and distribute to the poor (goonj.org). Utilization of their many collection points across major cities in India, their platform and experience in Indian clothing styles will ensure that the clothes benefit slum dwellers. The organization continues to enjoy positive recognition by various bodies for its ability to serve society through various awards. This will ensure a high level of accountability for all the clothes distributed through their program.
"Census of India: National Summary Data Page (NSDP)." Census of India Website: Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, New Delhi, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2013. .
"Cloth For Work (CFW) | GOONJ..a voice, an effort." GOONJ..a voice, an effort. GOONJ, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 27 Sept. 2013. .
"Textile Design, Indian Textiles, Handloom Weavers, Handloom Weavers Development Society,Handloom Cluster, Indigo Handloom, Traditional Jewellery, Handloom Silk Sarees, Cotton Sarees, Cotton Saree, Bandhani Saree, Fasion Industry, Museum, Brocade Designs, ." Indian Textiles Design, Fasion Industry, Museum, Indian Brocade Designs, Handloom Fabrics, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Traditional Indian Textiles, India Textile, Indian Textiles, Indian Textile Products, India Textile Gallery, Textile Manu. Ministry of Textiles, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2013. .