Columbia College class designs clothing for people with mobility issues


Fashion is cool, fun, bold and youthful.

You just have to walk into Reyes Witt’s classroom at Columbia College Chicago and see what her students are wearing. 20 year old Adam Salame sleeveless cowl t-shirt. 20-year-old Paige Bernby’s off-the-shoulder black batwing blouse. A mini dress with sequins and a white knee-high beret with her boots.

But fashion is as much fun as it is functional, and as evidenced by the name of the course, Design Solutions for Fashion Design, and what Wit students have been working on over the last 15 weeks, it’s about the elderly, not the children. It is intended for It can be worn by people facing physical challenges such as the elderly with limited mobility, wheelchair users, those who wear absorbent underwear, or who require assistance with dressing.

Students learned how to use the new 3D software to come up with designs and create prototype garments. Today, the top three designs are presented to Joe & Bella, a new Chicago company that designs and sells adaptive he apparel for seniors and people with disabilities.

Once the student is ready, that is.

“Some people are still sewing,” Witt says as class begins.

Ben Graham, Joe & Bella’s Vice President of Marketing, arrives.

“We pick one and give it to the design team to finalize,” he says. “Put it on our website and sell it.”

First up is a convertible unisex blue jacket with zip-off sleeves.

“There were some problems. ‘We used this material that we discussed last time.’

Move the pocket to the front.

“Usually I think of pockets on the side, but I can’t really access them when I’m in a wheelchair,” says 20-year-old Norma Espinoza.

Faith Redeaux, a design student at Columbia University, demonstrates the construction of the pants with zippered panels designed to facilitate donning. The class is taught by Reyes Witt (left, blue).

Courtesy of Julie Lucas/Columbia College Chicago

The second is beige pajama pants.

“Our focus here was to make it easily accessible for people with incontinence,” explains 20-year-old Faith Redeaux, who wears a black vest and purple faux-leather pants. To do. “Both panels come off completely.”

I didn’t want to interfere with the elasticity of the waistband.

“We figured it out this weekend,” she says. “We were suicidal over this.”

Columbia College fashion student Hugh Collin (center) shows Joe & Palace his poncho design. Bella's Vice President of Marketing, Ben Graham (left). Part of a class project to create adaptive clothing for the elderly and disabled.

Columbia College fashion student Hugh Collin (middle) meets Ben Graham (left), vice president of marketing at Joe & Bella, as part of a class project to create adaptive clothing for the elderly and people with disabilities. Showing the design of the poncho.

Courtesy of Julie Lucas/Columbia College Chicago

Finally, a combination of a plaid women’s blouse and poncho.

“This shows the evolution of our design process,” says 22-year-old Hugo Collin in a pompadour and jean jacket. “It’s easy to get someone dressed. You put this on their head and zip it up. Less hassle. Gives customers more choice.”

After the presentation, Graham encourages them.

“All three of them ran out of the park,” he says. “I see. This is really great. It’s not easy for him to pick one product to move forward.”

He reminds students that fashion design has an important lifestyle component.

“What you are doing here is real,” he says. “This will have a huge impact on people. Doing something to help other people live easier lives, and to help them look good while doing it.”

Graham has nothing but praise for his students.

“They worked hard,” he later says. “They listened really carefully. They were able to take constructive criticism like a pro. They understood our mission pretty quickly.”

Its mission is to overcome consumer resistance to adaptive clothing for the elderly, such as baby clothes and maternity wear, a type of adaptive clothing, and make it more fashionable and popular.

“We’re trying to normalize it,” says Graham. “It’s normal to be disabled. It’s normal to grow old. Let’s make something beautiful. Let’s celebrate this dress.”

Graham ultimately has to choose a poncho/top combination and make it available for pre-order on Joe & Bella’s website within 60 days. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Colombia as a scholarship.

The students had no problem changing gears.

“When I design, I think a lot of glamour and glitz,” says Salame. “So it’s really exciting to step into this space and think about functionality over looks. Combining innovation and adaptability in fashion is very exciting.”

“It’s really rewarding to know that I can help someone solve a real-world problem they have every day,” says Grace Gomez, 20, in a mocha pair with pearl-encrusted black stockings. “That’s what people don’t think. We live in a disabled community, and people don’t think about how other people need help.”

The winning blouse and poncho combination is available for pre-order at Joe & Co. Bella's website in a few months. Students Paige Berndt (left to right), Heavenly Scott, Hugo Collin, and Madison Chain.

The winning blouse and poncho combination will be available for pre-order on Joe & Bella’s website in the coming months. Students Paige Berndt (left to right), Heavenly Scott, Hugo Collin, and Madison Chain.

Courtesy of Julie Lucas/Columbia College Chicago





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