In the fashion and wearable devices industry, the adaptive wear market recognises the elderly and disabled as key consumers, under-provided for by conventional garment and product design. Adaptive Wear designers carry a distinct medical responsibility and can be held to stricter technical standards than the mainstream.
A chapter of inclusive design, Adaptive Wear does not privilege physical impairments, for example, limb loss, over cognitive disabilities, such as autism. To create wearable products that comprehensively respond to users’ needs, adaptive wear designers consult and collaborate with healthcare professionals, including carers and occupational therapists, in addition to co-designing with users.
The resulting garment or device thus considers all those interacting with it.
Inclusive design can be implemented in a range of disciplines. However, a fundamental goal is shared: to expand the target audience of a product, service or system to include as many people as possible. Many existing approaches to inclusive design begin with the identification of a specific user. Therefore, through co-design between maker and user, practitioners consider unmet needs. Designers will then seek wider application for their devised solutions to meet a range of access requirements.
Text by Anne Ferial and Ellen Fowles
Image by Anne Ferial