I hate uncomfortable clothing and have never understood the ‘hurts to be beautiful’ adage. Anything (pants, underpants, socks, whatever) I put on that bunches, creeps, or stretches too tight during my usual day of biking, walking, playing, and working will quickly find its way to the local thrift store!
Much of Western fashion tends to be designed for standing bodies without much consideration for people using mobility devices like wheelchairs and often favours form over function and comfort, too. I have to admit that in the past I didn’t think about how most of the clothing sold today would be SO uncomfortable for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. I should have figured this out sooner, as I know that certain clothes do not translate well when I ride my bike – shirts that are too short and low cut pants mean my back ‘bits’ are routinely exposed to the elements!
I saw her show “Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting,” at the ROM last summer and was blown away by how beautiful–and sexy–the clothing is. It really inspired me to think critically about the relationship between fashion, mobility, and accessibility. It’s not surprising at all that her exhibit won The Richard Martin Exhibition Award by unanimous decision!
Others tackling this issue include Gary Markle and Glen Hougan from NSCAD University who is working on a clothing line that meets the needs of older people as well as those with mobility challenges. The line is called ‘Worn Well’ and is concerned with designing for dignity for a population often unconsidered in the fashion market. Read more about the clothing line project here.
Whether you’ve got a bike, scooter, walker or wheelchair, duct tape is a seriously cheap and fast way to personalize any ride. No longer limited to that traditional grey, this strong adhesive product now comes in like a bazillion varieties of colours and sizes!
Duck Tape has leveraged the versatility of their brand to meet the needs of a growing number of DIY’s (do-it-yourselfers). They have a massive selection for people to choose from for repairs, crafts, labeling and decorating purposes. You can buy transparent tints, mini-rolls, sheets, and specialty duct tape—even scented and glow-in-the-dark products now exist!
Using duct tape as a tool for personalization is both accessible and affordable and the fact that is so durable and waterproof is an added bonus. I recently came across these sweet rides that were decorated with duct tape – check them out!
I pulled up beside this ride the other day and she explained her use of Duck Tape: “I started by fixing my seat and then loved it so much just kept taping! Hides the rust too!”
Saw this camouflage scooter in front of me at the border. The guy inside told me through his open window that he thinks the tape is a great improvement “I’ve always been an outdoor guy.”
Occupational therapist Christina Stephens designed and built her own lego leg – Cool! You can watch how she does this in her time-lapse video that went viral this past summer –
Personalized prosthetics serve many purposes beyond function – not only can they get people where they need to go, they do so with style, with fun, with flare, and yes with FASHION. Check out the ‘alternative limb project’ where consumers are participants in the design process selecting pieces that either “blend in with the body or stand out as unique pieces of art, reflecting the wearers imagination, personality, and interests”.
Personalized prosthetics, like personalized mobility devices, not only delight the eye, they help to break down social barriers by promoting conversation, admiration and interest.
Our ability to get where we need to go is an essential part of life . Getting there WITH our STUFF is critical to this! I mean who doesn’t need to at least carry their wallet, sunglasses, keys, phone and book while out and about? Occupational and physiotherapists tell me that the NUMBER ONE reason why people refuse a motorized wheelchair and instead choose a scooter – even if their healthcare provider is recommending the wheelchair – is because “THERE IS A BASKET ON THE FRONT”! Are you telling me we can’t figure this out?
Check out the suitcase scooter in action – fun, fashion and function at its best!
Recovering from recent hip surgery for an inflammatory joint infection called synovitis, the superstar was originally given a more traditional wheelchair which she affectionately named ‘Emma’. Not wanting to give up her style however (who does?!), Lady Gaga commissioned jewelry designer Ken Borochov to design the leather-tufted chair that features a removable canopy. Now THAT’s more like it girl – “P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face – Mum mum mum mah”…
Benja loved showing off his newly pimped up chair to his friends. He now has a dragon snake tattooed all around that opens its mouth as the wheels turn, and several customized-by-friends accessories using velcro, and other material, enriching his wheelchair experience! His mom simply posted a message on Facebook saying “I’m starting a new project for Benja’s b’day, want to contribute to an art-a-ride project?”. It’s this simple and easy, help us spread the word.
Art-a-Ride connects creative people with kids with disabilities to turn their factory looking – medicalized – wheelchairs that highlight their limitations, into interesting, meaningful, and in the case of Benja here – super cool – “rides”.
The final co-creations, according to founder Eva de Lera, have a profound impact on the kids, their lives, and the lives of their families. How amazing!
I’ve talked about this before, personalizing mobility aids is a form of self-expression that is not only good for our health and the health of those around us, its also really fun!