Designing Clothes for People of All Abilities

Open Style Lab is a non-profit organization with a mission to design stylish clothing with function for people with disabilities. In collaboration with students from the Parsons School of Design, Open Style Lab undertook a unique project to design clothes for individuals with disabilities and varying clothing specifications.

Kieran Kern has spastic quad cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair and was looking for a coat she could put on easily despite her muscles spasms. Ms. Kern said she felt liberated when the team came up with a red silk-and-wool, cape-inspired design with a circular rod running through the collar to allow her to easily swing the coat across her back single-handedly. Another recipient of the Parsons School teams’ designs was Christina Mallon who has a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease called flail arm syndrome. “I can’t dress, feed, type, write, ride the subway without assistive devices or help from a friend,” said Christina. Her team designed an outfit which would let Christina go out more without asking strangers for help. The design was a two-piece black wool coat, again with a cape-like top to cover her arms and chest and a narrow piece for the torso. They incorporated a device which can hang around the neck to hold her subway card inside.

Other designs included a pair of shiny gold-coloured trousers which zipped up the sides for a person with lower-body paralysis who wore a catheter and a wraparound vest whose recipient’s compressed vertebrae made leaning against a chair’s flat surface painful.

For more information about designing for all abilities, click here.