Fashion for Every Body

  • GOAL: Create stylish and practical adaptive wear to foster a more engaged conversation about universal fashion

    APPROACH: Challenged to design “something to change the world," Parsons student Lucy Jones decided to take on the fashion industry, which traditionally designs garments around the fit and function of the standing body. Jones sought to break down the barriers for the differently abled, especially those who are wheelchair reliant, by creating a stylish and functional line of clothing that accommodates anatomical variations.

    With the help of United Cerebral Palsy in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Jones conducted focus groups, interviewing seated individuals about their experience using industry-standard clothing and hearing about their wishes to express themselves through fashion.

    Through her research and design innovations, Jones sparked an important conversation in the fashion industry about how designers can change the world by becoming more mindful and inclusive.

    OUTCOME: Inspired by a hemiplegic cousin who spends much of his time in a wheelchair, Jones’s course project evolved into her thesis, “Seated Design: Advantage Blocks — An Introduction,” a comprehensive research project on universal fashion and an accompanying apparel collection created for self-propelled, seated consumers.

    In the Seated Design collection, Jones introduced “advantage blocks” — clothing with features such as reinforced knees and elbows that address fit and function issues specific to wheelchair users and the wear that comes with sitting. In her collection, she incorporated additional design details to help wearers dress more easily, thereby gaining greater accessibility and independence. Jones put a call out to fellow designers to see the value in involving disability in the creative process and to design for the needs of all individuals. Her collection showcases Parsons' commitment to engage the full spectrum of fashion design and marketing practice, where students and faculty are able to develop sustainable, impactful solutions to real world challenges.

    For her pioneering work, Jones won numerous awards and was included on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list of notable creative young talents. She went on to become the first creative director of Runway of Dreams, a nonprofit that partners with fashion brands to adapt mainstream fashion for differently abled wearers.

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