Urban Adaptation Garment Description / Design Process

My garment is inspired by a need to escape the chaos of chinatown and center oneself in an overwhelming environment. Inspired by a fusion of chaos and calm, tradition and modern practice, and harsh textures juxtaposed on soothing textures. My first impression of Chinatown inundated me with a plethora of ideas. So, I laid out all the images and concepts I observed which had inspired me in the form of a mind map. I grouped similar concepts together and related them to each other, whether they opposed each other (as indicated by two opposing arrows), or whether they tied into each other, as indicated by a trail of dots. Once I had my ideas organized, I was able to create a mood-board of digital images laid out based off my mind map.

I then decided the goal of my garment would be to help the wearer find calm in a hectic environment and escape from sensory overload. I was inspired by forms of stress relief which people in Chinatown use to escape the pollution, odors, crowding, etc; examples ranging from medicine/pills, to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, to comfort food, and even fidget spinners. People are constantly looking for ways to de-stress, especially in a setting such as Chinatown which constantly bombards us with unpleasant sensations. Therefore, I designed a garment which is worn as a veil over the head, with a pocket of lavender to stimulate olfactory pleasure and calm the wearer. The bottom of the garment represents the chaos which the wearer is escaping through the top. The overarching concept also embodies the principles of Chinese Medicine, one of them being the harmony between two opposing yet complementary forces which promotes health. It is the imbalance of these forces which causes disease. The wearer of the garment can simply pull up the veil and experience relief, kind of like a “pill” effect which someone might take for fleeting discomfort such as nausea or headaches.

The design of the garment evolved tremendously based on the materials I found and the construction process itself. At first the design had multiple components, but in the end I decided on a simpler construction. All the aspects of the garment were purchased in Chinatown. The top half of the garment is what functions to calm the wearer. The veil is constructed of silky blue scarves which are breathable and see through. The lavender pouch is a coin purse with lavender tea inside. The scarves wrap around the torso and drape over the head and shoulders. The purse is simply a chinatown lantern, for added flair and texture, and to bring together the blue of the top with the blues in the skirt. The skirt is a Chinese newspaper layered, cut, painted, and taped. It is crafted to look messy, chaotic, but still artful – with a blue border to maintain continuity and order in the chaos.

The addition of lavender is a motif throughout the garment, as a symbol of calm in the chaos of the skirt, and also functioning as a pleasing scent. In addition, I put fresh lavender in the lantern purse for a natural, cohesive look.

The name I decided on is “Ohm” because is a universal word which signifies calm. It is associated with relief, centering, meditation – bliss even. My logotype is composed of not-quite concentric circles, in the shape of an “O”, with an h and an m inside the circles. The hangtag is a 3-dimensional version of this.

Therefore, I hope my garment is able to serve its function and calm the wearer in a chaotic environment.

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