Designer Makes Clothes for Wheelchair-Bound Individuals
Designer Lucy Jones' clothes allow paraplegics to dress themselves and move more comfortably
Advantage Blocks is a manual by Parsons student Lucy Jones meant to let people make clothes for people who are bound to a wheelchair or have physical disabilities.
The clothing patterns takes into account the changes in body shape when it is seated, departing form the usual design process which is made for the standing human body, and have unique features that make them easier to change into.
A “block” is the most basic pattern for clothing where many designs can be derived from. The Advantage Block is unique in that it is created with measurements from a seated individual. When a person is seated, body dimensions can change dramatically. For example, arms on the sides are of a different length and circumference than when they bent on armrests. When seated, knees are also kept permanently bent, a form many pants are not built for which, like tight sleeves, can cause discomfort.
Advantage Blocks takes all these differences into account. This allows greater movement around key areas while making the clothes easier to put on. The closures and pieces are usually held together by snap buttons instead of cumbersome regular buttons or zippers. Unique measurements like “Knee Cap Region” and “Elbow Region” gives importance to otherwise problematic areas. For example, the Advantage Blocks pants can be fitted while maintaining an angle at the knee.
The clothing for limbs (sleeves and pant legs) are also detached at the joints. The shirts can be worn short-sleeved but with a simple modular extension, the overall look of the garment is changed.
Advantage Blocks sprouted from her college fashion collection named “Seated Design.” Through that, the Welsh fashion student was able to dig deeper into the challenges paraplegics face with ready-to-wear clothing. She particularly attributes the inspiration to her cousin who goes about independently except when he has to change clothes.
With Seated Design, Jones has won the Womenswear Designer of the Year award from Parsons, a coveted medal amongst young fashion innovators. Through the Advantage Blocks website, Jones will be making the resources for building the clothes available to all and hopefully inspire other designers to include disability in the design process for clothing.