In the fashion industry, the adaptive wear market recognises the elderly and disabled as key consumers, under-provided for by conventional garment design. Adaptive Wear designers carry a distinct medical responsibility and can be held to stricter technical standards than the mainstream.
A chapter of inclusive design, adaptive wear does not privilege physical impairments, for example, limb loss, over cognitive disabilities, such as autism. To create clothing that comprehensively responds to users’ needs, adaptive wear designers consult and collaborate with healthcare professionals, including carers and occupational therapists, in addition to co-designing with wearers.
The resulting product thus considers all those interacting with it.
Inclusive design can be implemented in a range of disciplines. However, a fundamental goal is shared: to expand the target audience of a product, service or system to include as many people as possible. Many existing approaches to inclusive design begin with the identification of a specific user. Therefore, through co-design between maker and user, practitioners consider unmet need. Designers will then seek wider application for their devised solutions to meet a range of access requirements.
Text: Ellen Fowles
Image: Anne Ferial