Designing for All Abilities

  • 2017-05-16
  • The New York Times

Shopping for and choosing clothes is challenging enough that an entire industry of stylists, magazine editors and fashion bloggers has been created to help. But imagine if your parameters included more than finding a sweater to complement your eye color, or a backpack to match your sneakers.

Imagine if you were unable to use your arms to do anything (let alone get dressed), or used a wheelchair and needed to have easy access to a catheter, or had a spine with a significant convex curve that made pressing up against any flat surface painful, or had muscles that spasm.

Those conditions are reality for four people who became the “clients” of 15 students at Parsons School of Design at the New School this year. The students, who came from different majors, were divided into four teams and spent their spring semester creating clothing to fit their clients’ unique requirements as part of a class run by Open Style Lab, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to design functional and fashionable clothing for people with disabilities.