Tactile Clothing Helps The Visually Impaired Choose Outfits
The pieces from Balini Naidoo are made to make dressing up easier for the blind
The clothes we choose to wear are a mode of self-expression. Whether it’s in the color, the cut or embellishments, we pick clothes that appeal to us and what we think make us look great. This simple morning ritual, however, is a bit more complicated and a lot less fun for visually-impaired people. Clothes, most of which are designed for the average person, are visual objects. South African designer Balini Naidoo has an answer to this problem: Clothing that looks great from afar but also communicates meaning when touched.
The clothes are mostly done in plain and neutral colors so that pieces easily work well with each other. Using embroidery, Naidoo has integrated Braille writing into the garments. This helps the wearer identify and understand the piece he or she is holding before putting it on. Aside from giving the blind a more active role in choosing what clothes to wear, the writing on the pieces also helps them dress independently.
Naidoo said she drew inspiration from home; in an interview with her school’s website, she shared:
“Having a family member who is visually impaired has made me aware of the many struggles that are faced by the unsighted. Some difficulties include daily clothing identification and clothing choices made without assistance. In a South African content, I feel there is a gap in the market.”
PSFK has recently noticed a lot of radical ideas in fashion that are redefining disabled people’s relationship with their garments. In 2015, we saw another young designer create clothes for wheelchair-bound people. Target has also released an adaptive clothing line for kids.
As the fashion industry continues to grow, ideas like Naidoo’s explores a different kind of approach to design. It’s smart, utilitarian yet very creative and wearable.
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