This Jaipur student created a fashion collection for the elderly and people with Alzheimer's
“About three to four years ago, I saw my grandfather struggle with Alzheimer’s and at that point, I wanted to help him and others like him who were suffering,” says Harsha Rathi, a student of Pearl Academy, Jaipur, who has discovered an innovative solution that can help these patients.
This led the post-graduation student to develop an innovative solution called Time Whisperer to help these patients. Harsha tells YSWeekender that it is a slow-made, easy to wear collection, tailored to provide care with the next generation textile that is smart and functional. It aims to improve the quality of life for the elderly using a wide range of clothing products for mobility support, medical help, hygiene, and monitoring health.
“The idea was conceptualised while thinking about how I can create a statement garment for the wearer who is suffering from Alzheimer’s,” Harsha shares.
Time Whisperer works out of Jaipur and Kolkata – two cities that are rich in handloom heritage. The founder shares that the fabric for the collection was sourced from remote localities of Bengal, as she has personal affirmations of her grandfather growing up there.
Harsha Rathi at work
The fashion collection targets elderly citizens by making it functional and aims to help them feel better about themselves.
The collection uses natural dyes in the garments that are not just better for the planet, but also aid in healing for the patients.
For example, the tender green colour in the collection is obtained from rose petals which can have a calming effect.
The Time Whisperer collection caters to the elderly
“By wearing clothes dyed from rose petals, you are wearing that energy and you carry that throughout the day, and that’s the best thing you could offer to a golden ager,” says Harsha.
The garments are designed to enable easier dressing and comes with hidden magnetic fasteners and Velcro, which has no direct contact with the wearer’s skin. They also feature overlapping closures and elasticated waistlines for increased comfort and easier dressing.
The garments also incorporate adaptations to make the clothing look as normal as possible, and are aimed at comfort and not requiring a lot of effort from the wearer’s end.
In addition, the motifs in the collection represent different age-old Rajasthani handloom patterns that are inspired by India’s rich handloom legacy.
“The collection captures the values my grandfather instilled in me. It stands at an intersection of local and global; traditional and innovative, classic yet contemporary,” Harsha says.
“While the garment solves the problem faced by the elderly with putting on clothes, it also encapsulates that feeling of contentment and oneness to the elderly, bringing forth a range of soft breathable, and authentic charm to the wearer,” she adds.
The clothes are designed for the elderly to wear to brunch, on vacation, or to celebrate each day in the luxurious collection of handcrafted styles.
A ‘timeless’ collection
Harsha says the reason why the collection is called ‘Time Whisperer’ is that she feels the concept and the collection itself is timeless as it brings together fine fabrics, comfortable silhouettes and a muted palette – all created with the concept of ethical fashion.
“I came up with the design from a deep-rooted sense of empathy for my grandfather's difficulties with putting clothes on and his jumbled memories of East and West. The garment is made with a motive to provide the wearer with a feeling of contentment and oneness. It indeed whispers the feeling of comfort to the target audience. Hence, the name fell into place,” she says.
Harsha firmly believes that green fashion is no longer an alternative, but a necessity. Through her collection, she wishes to take responsibility for the earth in every way, devising eco-friendly methods of crafting the garments and ultimately, reducing waste
Some of the designs of the Time Whisperer collection
So, the materials that Harsha used for this project are herbal dyed fabrics, natural raw materials, and organic cotton and silk. She also used Indian weaves, old bandage techniques by endorsing the sustainable movement of embracing heritage hand-woven textiles of Bengal, organic cotton and silk, natural dyes, and herbal finish.
“While I did my research for suitable marketplaces for the collection, I wanted to begin with establishing the base for the collection in Kolkata. I have reached out to several renowned boutiques in the city and proposed my idea of launching a clothing line, especially for the elderly. I have connected with these boutiques via social media platforms,” she shares.
The garments are priced between Rs 6,000-10,000. A total of 10 garments were made as a part of the collection while two garments were released. For this round, Harsha decided to finance it herself since the collection was inspired by the life of her grandfather.
Impact and challenges
Not every elderly person confined to their bed wears clothes that look like hospital clothes or nightwear. The core idea of the brand was to create designs that would make dressing easy for the wearer and the caregiver.
“I have received warm and inspiring feedback from the people so far. This collection had a great impact on its target audience and many found that the collection was a specialised and empathetic effort for the mature generation, with a pinch of fashion element,” says Harsha.
Talking about some of the major challenges, Harsha shares that she had to put in a lot of effort and research in understanding the difficulties that Alzheimer’s patients had to face.
“Since it is an emotional topic for many, it was challenging to crack a conversation with the elderly patients who were suffering from this disease,” says Harsha.
For the road ahead, Harsha says that she wants to collaborate and showcase her collection as widely as possible.
“In the future, I hope I am able to reach a position where I have the platform to promote sustainable fashion widely. I aim to take organic sustainable clothing options forward,” says Harsha.
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