People Are Finally Designing Fashion for Those Who Use Wheelchairs
Lucy Jones, a student at Parsons School of Design, was moved to create a series of innovative patterns called Advantage Blocks after her cousin, who is paralyzed on one side of his body, told her that he wished he was able to dress himself.
Her "seated design" project, as she calls it, is available online so that others can utilize the guidelines she's created while researching the universal designs that are so intrinsic to architecture and product design.
"The tilt of a pelvis and in general the anatomical change that occurs when we 'sit down' completely alters the way fabric and fit behave on our bodies," Lucy told Fast Company. "We should remember that we are not designing people, seeking people who fit our designs; we are designing for people who need comfort and flexibility."
Other students are taking an interest in reinventing apparel for seated individuals. This summer, Grace Teo and Alice Tin ran their second annual OpenStyleLab at MIT, a 10-week program that challenges students to make attractive apparel for the disabled through an engineering, occupational therapy and design education.
"The independence to choose clothes, the independence to dress [oneself] in the morning is such an intimate act that is integral to anyone's morning ritual," founder Alice Tin told CNN. "Why isn't the fashion industry addressing this issue?"
One of their graduates even went on to work at Nike, which released the "Flyease" sneaker recently. It's designed specially for those who have difficulty putting on the shoes that are currently on the market.
Heidi McKenzie, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a tragic car accident when she was 21, has also entered the space with a Kickstarter-funded denim company called Alter Ur Ego, that features high, elastic waists and pull tabs, making it far easier for those in wheelchairs to get on by themselves.
Soon, we hope specialized fashion for seated individuals will become the norm for those who need it. And we have all these young people to thank for flipping the script on the status quo!