From the New York Times: Fashion’s Newest Frontier is the Disabled and the Displaced #WearableWednesday


The New York Times has a fascinating piece on reimagine clothing to help those with disabilities, refugees, and more.

Six years ago, Maura Horton, a housewife in Raleigh, N.C., received a call from her husband, Don, the assistant football coach at North Carolina State. He was on the road for a game and having so much trouble buttoning his shirt, he had to ask a player (Russell Wilson, now the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks) for help.

Mr. Horton had received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease four years before, and symptoms were starting to worsen.

So Mrs. Horton did what anyone would do these days when faced with such a problem: She searched Google for “easy-to-close shirt.” And found … not much.

“And then I looked at my iPad cover and saw it had these really small magnets, and thought, ‘Well, what about that?’” she says now — a patent, a company and 22 shirt styles later.

Mrs. Horton (who once designed children’s wear but stopped to start her family) and her company, MagnaReady, are part of a new sub-sector in fashion: what Chaitenya Razdan, the founder and chief executive of Care and Wear, has christened “healthwear.” The sector takes the tools and techniques (and trends) of fashion and applies them to the challenges created by illness and disability.

And healthwear is simply one part of a larger movement, in which classically trained designers (and those they work with) are rethinking the basic premise, and promise, of fashion itself. Call it solution-based design.

Though fashion is often dismissed as frivolous and self-indulgent, this growing niche suggests that rather than being part of the problem — and a symbol of the multiple divisions in society (political, personal, economic) — it can actually come up with some of the answers.

Read more.

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