Apparel Strategy

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In this collaborative studio, students from occupational therapy and fashion worked together in pairs with a specific client. Over seven weeks, the students met three times with their client to get to know them and understand their needs. During the final meeting with the client, students presented a portfolio of designs and received feedback from the clients. The work was displayed at an exhibition at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Working with clients allowed students to dive into the specific functional needs for clients, and helped them move beyond traditional adaptive clothing. No Velcro was permitted as a fastener, challenging students to research out-of-the-box options, such as magnetic closures. As Ingram said, “In the end, we saw that many of the functional needs aren’t limited to people with mobility or vision impairments. The design solutions the students came up with could easily be marketed to mainstream consumers—there’s no reason to label it ‘adaptive clothing.’” Final designs considered the needs of both clients and caregivers, and incorporated features such as center-back openings, interchangeable sleeves, and specific material selections. Students also selected ready-to-wear pieces to demonstrate the design recommendations they had made for their clients.

Students enjoyed the collaborative process with their clients and their peers. Alex Giger, a third-year fashion design student, said, “I loved getting to know my client, Jessi, and my OT partner, Berrit Goodman. I learned so much about what clothing can do—it really has the ability to change the course of a day, boost self-confidence, and provide a positive in someone’s life. It is what I hope my future design practice will do for my clients.”

Program in Occupational Therapy at the Washington University School of Medicine

"Designing an Apparel Strategy," Program in Occupational Therapy