WEAR-ABOUTS Baltic Sea project to launch the first prototype collection of interactive children clothes.
The ‘readable’ smart clothes illustrations are designed by Nordic and Baltic illustrators and encourage visitors to discover travel destinations around the Baltic Sea, off the beaten track
WEAR-ABOUTS Baltic Sea project is an innovative concept operating on principles of design-driven innovation (using design principles to rethink and re-evaluate the meaning of products and services) and alternative education. Its aim is to re-imagine the use of illustration and textile patterns in unconventional contexts that are able to generate innovative products and services with a deeper impact on people and the territory. The project was awarded and funded through the WORTH Partnership Project, a programme of the European Union, in May 2019 and is currently developing the very first collection that will be launched before Christmas 2019. The collections will be available for purchase both through the project’s website and through a crowdfunding campaign (pre-purchase).
The clothes and accessories use original illustrations done by a Nordic or Baltic illustrator for this specific collection, which are readable through the WEAR-ABOUTS app. This means that the wearer of the garment can scan the clothes’ illustrations he or she is wearing with his Smartphone or a tablet and Augmented Reality elements as well as additional content will appear, including tips and info for discovering itineraries off the beaten track. In addition to the collection, WEAR-ABOUTS will release also an illustrated physical book inspired from the fabric’s illustration, which can be purchased either with the garment or separately and which brings a necessary alternative to the use of connected devices.
The prototype collection aims to offer an alternative travel experience across the countries around the Baltic Sea, fostering a transnational perspective, to children and
families but can be used also as an original souvenir to bring back from the travel or even to buy beforehand in order to prepare a travel together with the family. Locals are also encouraged to rediscover their territory in more original way, accessing alternative online contents. Its broad functionality – as a fashion item and as an interactive guide - is generated through a deep research on sustainability both in terms of materials (the use of organic-cotton and innovative sustainable materials) and working processes (the interactive content is built on principles of the ‘Designing for children rights’ guide (D4CR Association), using devices as bridges to foster outdoor activities and adopts alternative education principles such as autonomous and outdoor education. This is why WEAR-ABOUTS produces not only fashion items, but ‘clothes with a meaning’ as cultural products that adopt beyond an aesthetic direction, an approach oriented towards thinking and co-designing with children through different experiments.
Beyond the brand
WEAR-ABOUTS is in fact a broader digital and design-driven concept that operates through two lines of activity: its brand called WEAR-ABOUTS which handles all the collections and accessories and ILLUSTRIOUS Lab, a non-profit part that experiments with creative techniques in the frame of co-designing with children. An example of such activities is the ILLUSTRIOUS Lab workshops, supported by IKEA Finland, the Estonian Children’s Literature Center andKoja Agency (Sweden) that will be held on the 13th, 14th and 15th of September 2019 in the frame of the Helsinki Design Week and Children’s Design Week.
Creative process driving WEAR-ABOUTS
A limited first edition collection is currently being worked on in collaboration with the professional Finnish illustrator Miila Westin who is working on the illustrated patterns. Miila was selected for her poetic and fantastic vision of characters and environments, and her great sense of colouring, which are perfectly fitting with the first test-target group (8-16 years old). Additionally she possesses in-depth knowledge of her country and has been able to guide us through her own vision of the territory. What is also very important is that Miila is using her memories of travels through Estonia in order to propose a trans-cultural vision, which unites and differentiate at the same time, two neighbouring countries, across the Baltic Sea. Miila has worked closely with the WEAR-ABOUTS designers’ team in order to carefully select each element to be represented, the Augmented Reality additional elements and the whole composition of the pattern.
The illustrator, Miila Westin, drawing from observation in Mikkeli region, Finland. Copyright: Miila Westin
The peculiarity of Miila Westin’s working process is that for some of the natural elements represented she draws directly from her observations of nature. The whole creation process of WEAR-ABOUTS products, including the WEAR-ABOUTS designers and assoctiated illustrators, is deeply rooted in environmental connection, and outdoor creative sessions, in order to be able to restitute to the public through the products, a real immersion in Baltic Sea countries through the illustrator’s world.
The purpose of this working method is to propose another vision of a destination to visitors as well as to locals, who might already know the destination. The art of illustration and graphic design is a perfect prism through which to allude to different concepts and to invite the public to consider alternative views on the world and reconsider what they can see at first glance.
The first WEAR-ABOUTS collection is based on the “nature and nurture” concept and is experimenting/visiting as well the wellbeing approach and the way smart clothes can help children and young people to reconsider the way they eat and buy food supplies, considering options available beyond the supermarket. This wellbeing approach is an axis that we intend to develop as well in the future through the brand, for children as well as for adults.
"The pattern of the new collection is still being kept secret. Though few elements of the illustrated patterns will be communicated, the first original products will be unveiled with the occasion of the launching of our October pre-purchase campaign on a crowdfunding platform. Instead of asking our first and future customers to give money to fund the creation of further products, we decided to offer them the possibility to be our first buyers for this limited edition collection at the right time for the Christmas presents’ period. This formula represents the best form of encouragement that our customers can grant us: their trust is our best reward!"
"Our aim is to build a strong community of customers, sharing our values and wishing to support the development of further collections."
More info on the WEAR-ABOUTS collections and the Illustrious Lab activities can be found at the following links:
WEAR-ABOUTS brand’s website: www.wearaboutsdesign.wordpress.com/
ILLUSTRIOUS Lab website: www.illustriouslab.wordpress.com/
Helsinki Children’s Design Week workshops (schools and free open workshops for the public): https://www.helsinkidesignweek.com/events/childrens-weekend-a-secret-garden/
Follow also our social media pages to stay up to date with our events and to find out how you can get the WEAR-ABOUTS products: