Whether you’re a trend-hunting fashionista or someone who throws on whatever’s lying around, what you wear matters. The clothes you choose affect how you present yourself to the world and how you move through your day—hence fashion is a billion-dollar industry. But while designers and consumers hungrily cycle through the latest trends, there is one section of society woefully underrepresented on the runway: Those who live with disabilities.
24-year-old fashion designer Lucy Jones from Cardiff, United Kingdom, is looking to change that. Last month she made Forbes 2016 30 Under 30 list—not for a multimillion dollar startup idea but for her innovative fashion designs for people in wheelchairs.
She calls her work “Seated Design,” and she is pioneering ways to clothe bodies with limited mobility. The goal is to provide options that are functional, comfortable, and stylish to a population largely ignored by the industry. While Jones is not disabled herself, she has a vested interest in the issue, as she explains:
This project grew out of a personal response to a comment made by my younger cousin Jake, who is hemiplegic. He told me he wished he could dress himself independently.
The ability to not only physically clothe yourself but to creatively express yourself should be a universal right, Jones feels, and so her work focuses on ways to efficiently adapt traditional designs for the disabled—no easy task.
In fashion design, we traditionally use the ‘standing body.’ We can eyeball a ‘good’ neckline, a suitable length for a sleeve and so on. However, if we begin with the seated body, many of these measurements and our assumptions of garment construction become disrupted due to the anatomical variations and disabilities of seated individuals.”
To solve for this, Jones has created Avantage Blocks, patterns and garment-construction solutions that allow designers to adapt their designs to meet the unique challenges those with limited mobility face. (The concept won her the 2015 Parsons Womenswear Designer of the Year award.) The Advantage Blocks work almost like fashion LEGO blocks, allowing you to do things like adapt a sleeve for a prosthetic or adapt a pair of pants for a wheelchair.
Jones is eager to make fashion design as inclusive as possible by providing the tools to design around disabilities from the start—not as an afterthought.
It is up to designers to better the fit, practicality and comfort of our garments, and it is vital that we see the value of this practice to our society. To that end, designers should share, design, develop and listen to the needs of all individuals.
For more about her work, click here.
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