We all know that just because you use a wheelchair does not mean that you’re not fashion conscious, and recently a woman from Cardiff, UK won two top awards for her fabulous designs that are aimed specifically at wheelchair-users.
Lucy Jones won the Womenswear Designer of the Year 2015 awarded by the New York Parsons School of Design. Ms Jones, 23, was presented with the award at the school’s annual fashion charity benefit event where she also won the Parsons & Kering’s Empowering Imagination contest.
The inspiration and motivation for Ms Jones’ designs was her cousin, Jake who is partially paralysed. Jake’s hemiplegia means he has a real struggle dressing himself. Ms Jones realised that her cousin’s problems highlighted a real gap in the fashion industry and began to create designs for more accessible clothing in 2012. The young designer says that accessible clothing gives disabled people a real feeling of power and independence.
Ms Jones works with a woman who has multiple sclerosis. Between them they have identified common problems with the design of standard clothing. For example, off-the-peg trousers are too short at the ankle and too low at the back for someone who is continually in a sitting position in their wheelchair. The solution was to remove the extra fabric that creases at the knee bend, effectively enabling the trousers to fall flat. Another consideration was the spread of thighs and bottoms when the wearer is seated which can cause uncomfortable bunching of fabric at the crotch.
Tops presented a different set of problems. For example, the elbows were reinforced to cope with the extra wear and tear of continually leaning on armrests. More room was allowed for the greater muscle development in the arms and shoulders of wheelchair-users, too.
Ms Jones has made it her mission to draw the fashion industry’s attention to the issues facing wheelchair-users and to continue in her work designing for people with disabilities.
It’s great to see that someone has finally taken ownership for improving fashion design for wheelchair-users. People with disabilities can now look forward to wearing clothing that’s not only trendy, but comfortable and practical too.
Image source: BBC.co.uk