The Next Phase of Inclusive Fashion: Designing for the Disabled

The Next Phase of Inclusive Fashion: Designing for the Disabled

It’s an understatement to say that those of us with free range of movement in our arms and legs don’t realize how easy it is to shop for clothes. We complain about being in-between sizes, feeling disappointed by our favorite designers, or getting overwhelmed by massive high-street chains—so many options, so little time . . . the struggle! Of course, if a disability confines you to a wheelchair, your options are reduced to a mere fraction of all of that. When you’re sitting all day and, in some cases, partially paralyzed, your clothes need to be easy to put on, made of breathable fabrics, and non-restricting, while also being durable enough to withstand possible contact with a wheel, especially along the sleeves. Jackets can’t be too long, or the extra fabric gets bunched up around the waist. And rain gear? That’s another story entirely.

Open Style Lab is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing these issues. On Saturday, OSL hosted its fourth fashion showcase at Parsons School of Design, where four teams of designers, engineers, and occupational therapists showed a custom garment designed for a client in a wheelchair. Grace Jun, OSL’s executive director, organized the first showcase at MIT in 2014, and has worked on developing clothing for people with autism, impaired vision, cerebral palsy, and many other disabilities. This year, she decided to recruit four clients in wheelchairs with seemingly similar spinal cord injuries. “I wanted to show that no two people with the same disability are alike,” she told Vogue. “We talked a lot about the user experience, asking clients what subway line they take, how they navigate New York City, and what their day involves, to [reinforce] that design is a holistic process.” One client wanted a formal jumpsuit for her frequent dinner parties and events; another needed a tailored jacket to wear to an upcoming wedding; and two asked for rain jackets. Umbrellas aren’t an option when you’re in a manual wheelchair.

After 10 weeks of intensive research and design work—not to mention daily calls and frequent visits with their clients—each team presented their projects to a panel of judges, who awarded a monetary prize to one winner to fund the production of their garment. The teams shared videos, infographics, and in-process photos of their work to explain not just the technical details of the garments, but how those features related to their clients’ lives. The winning project was “Q x Go,” a rain jacket system designed for Q, a vivacious New Yorker who zig-zags the city for his job at the New York City Department of Transportation. His chief complaint about rain coats was that his lap and the armrests of his wheelchair always get wet, so his team designed a waterproof jacket with removable 3-D printed side panels to zip over the armrests. One of the panels has a folded, detachable blanket inside, which zips into the jacket to cover Q’s legs—problem solved. The jacket also has rounded sleeves for extra arm-bending room; an interior drawstring cuff to keep water from getting in; anti-abrasion fabrics to avoid wear and tear by the wheels; bonded pockets and seams; and is made of a surprisingly breathable, waterproof Polartec fabric.

In bright orange and charcoal gray, the jacket looks like any other sleek, sporty rain jacket you’d find on the market. While 15 percent of the world’s population is living with a disability and has specific clothing needs, designing an item strictly for the disabled isn’t necessarily the answer. Instead, Jun says companies need to consider how their garments will work for both customers who walk into their store and those who happen to be in a wheelchair. “We chose the winner based on the garment’s universal application,” she says. “If you’re only targeting the disability market, it’s hard to be inclusive of others.”

วันที่โพสต์: 16/08/2560 เวลา 10:35:21 ดูภาพสไลด์โชว์ The Next Phase of Inclusive Fashion: Designing for the Disabled