A rising community of workers wearing protective clothing

IFFTI 2019

Paper 3

Kundlata Mishra
& Ela Dedhia

National Institute of Fashion Technology, India

A rising community of workers wearing protective clothing

When one meets a stranger, the identity analysis of the stranger commences. First by the visual appearance/ communication through the clothes they wear, and subsequently by asking what do they do? Thus, making fashion and their work as major contributors towards perceiving their identities. Clothing is a mediator between the naked body and a self-symbol to the world.

If one meets a group of people, who have qualified for doing a particular job, wearing particular clothing that ensures their safety and tackles danger for the wearer, it creates a sense of belonging and identity. Thus defining them as a community – a group of people having these characteristics in common. The challenge that this identity brings can have a positive as well as a negative impact. The idealist will look at this identity as a boon, with a sense of pride to celebrate what they do and where they belong. It creates a sense of self-assurance towards safety. On the other hand, such identity creation could also lead to a sense of loss at the position in the work place. The authors conduct an in-depth qualitative analysis of workers from petrochemical industries (n=200) of Northern and Western India to understand their acceptance, behaviour and reaction to protective clothing (PC), using a questionnaire based on Likert scale, and open-ended questions to understand their acceptance, behavior and reaction to protective clothing (PC). They discuss how not just the wearer but also the audience perceives them in their work-wear. The statistical findings from the study indicate that the workers were well aware of the importance of PC in petrochemical industries. It was observed that previously different tasks were assigned different uniforms, but at present irrespective of the hierarchy, each worker is wearing the same PC. The research shows how this creates a rising collective identity from an individual identity, founded on role-based identity.


assistant professor Kundlata Mishra

Kundlata Mishra is Assistant Professor at NIFT Mumbai and has hands on experience working with the various craft clusters including those in Waraseoni, Balaghat, Mandsaur, Yeola, Aurnagbad and others. With a Masters in Textiles and Clothing from Delhi University, she has served as a Lecturer at Delhi University and has more than a decade’s teaching experience. During 2015-16 she was a team member for the research and data collection for the book Stands of Time – crafts of Maharashtra. She has also been a team member of research and development for a publication on Tribal Costumes of Gujarat (2008). In addition, she has worked extensively for design solutions for individuals with special-needs by developing functional garments for them. Apart from the research in the craft sectors, she is also a team member in making of a publication on Indian Pattern Making and Garment Construction Techniques, which is in process. She has actively been part of uniform design projects for various PSU, Government Sectors and Schools since 2006. Her current research is based on protective clothing for process-based industries.