I’m passionate about nurturing creativity and nourishing our imaginations and I believe a wonderful way of doing this is through imaginative play and storytelling.
My mission is to create dressing up costumes which children can use as a tool for their imagination. I design without gender in mind as I believe imaginative play should be a time for children to explore and express themselves freely, discover, empathise and work out their own ideas and stories. As a mum of 4 boys, I’ve experienced how restrictive gender stereotypes can be and was determined to make my costumes as gender neutral as I could.
My Another World journey began with a request for some superhero capes from my eldest child’s teacher when he was in reception. I volunteered and had lots of fun making colourful and sparkly capes to be used in their superhero-themed week. It was wonderful hearing from the children themselves, how the capes had inspired them. What also struck me was when children have the choice of a full range of colours, they don’t necessarily choose gender stereotypical colours!
I enjoyed this experience so much, I continued working alongside teachers, parents and children, designing, developing and testing my designs and creating costumes which children love to wear and play in.
The costumes are designed to be adaptable rather than prescriptive or restricted to a particular character. The capes, for example, are reversible to create more possibilities. I want to put children in charge of their own story. I purposely do not put teeth on the animal costumes (particularly thinking about the wolf, fox and bear) so that children can decide how their animal character is feeling, rather than portraying them in a certain stereotyped light. I was aware of how certain animals seemed to appear on boys clothing (usually predators with teeth) and others on girls clothing (often animals of prey) and wanted to avoid creating such a division with the costumes.
I also use practical design as a way of helping children take ownership of the costumes and their play. The costumes are worn over everyday clothing. They are easy to put on and take off, which also encourages self dressing, and are practical to play in. The tabards, capes and dresses fasten with Velcro and the hats and animal hoods are gently elasticated. They are fully lined making them robust and comfortable to wear.
For me, it’s about child-centred design – easy to wear, great to play in and full of awe and wonder!