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Sewing up an overlooked market

July 17,2017 05:34

Everyday clothing worn by the average person becomes a challenge to people hampered by physical disabilities. For those with limb and mobility impairments, putting on regular clothes can be a daily impediment. To tackle the issue and provide equal ...


Adaptive clothing prototype. FleishmanHillard

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Everyday clothing worn by the average person becomes a challenge to people hampered by physical disabilities. For those with limb and mobility impairments, putting on regular clothes can be a daily impediment.
To tackle the issue and provide equal rights for the disabled, the Vejdusit Foundation has joined hands with three leading Thai fashion brands -- Sretsis, Patinya and Greyhound Original -- in the project entitled "Do-It-Together", which was recently launched at EmQuartier. The project is part of "Unlimited Dreams", which is the brainchild of the Vejdusit Foundation which, during the past 33 years, has focused on assisting the poor and supporting agencies responsible for medical advancements to improve the quality of life among Thais.
First launched in 2015, Unlimited Dreams' objective is to raise awareness of the situation with disabled people and potentially provide them with long-term career opportunities. Past activities included but were not limited to a short film to raise awareness and increase social participation for people with disabilities and a crowdsourcing activity featuring the public giving their take on career choices for disabled children.
Under the Do-It-Together clothing campaign, the disabled will be provided with the experience of working in the fashion industry and the chance to contribute to the development of "adaptive clothing".
What distinguishes "adaptive clothing" from normal clothing is its altered sewing patterns and clothing components that allow for them to be easily worn and taken off.
Still, the disabled should also have access to clothing that looks good on them, fits well and provides comfort. Furthermore, this can help boost their confidence and open up windows of opportunity for them to play a bigger part in society.
Rather than looks, adaptive clothing puts more emphasis on function. Simply put, adaptive clothing is made to accommodate those who are physically disabled.
While designers Patinya and Greyhound Original will be working on the designing aspect of adaptive clothing, Sretsis will be primarily responsible for hosting the workshops that will help disabled children learn the processes and different aspects involved in fashion designing.
"For us at Sretsis, we'll be taking care of the workshops that play host to a number of disabled children whose ambition for the future is to work in the fashion industry," said Sretsis' head of marketing Klyduan Sukhahuta.
"It was a challenge when it came to planning the organisation and set-up of our workshops because honestly we'd never done anything like this before."
Asked about the challenges throughout the project, Klyduan answered: "We had to walk them through the steps in the designing and production stages in fashion. There are many sections in this business so we needed to see who was a good fit for a certain job.
For example, one person can work in sourcing or raw materials while another can work in the designing or finishing process. You just never know who is going to be comfortable with what."
This project was the first time Greyhound Original has worked with a foundation that helps people with disabilities.
"We were surprised to hear that there were a number of disabled people interested in working in the fashion business," said Wichukorn Chokdeetawee-anan of Greyhound Original. "While there were a lot of people interested, we still had to be very selective in choosing the people for our workshops.
"For instance, a visually impaired child may draw what they see in their minds. In turn, we could use that for implementation in the designs for part of our limited run of products. Any profits made from the sales of these particular products will be donations towards foundations that help the disabled."
The adaptive clothing is yet to be made available. For now, there is one prototype, a template piece for a modified shirt. Designs will potentially come as a result of the ideas of those participating in the workshops. The prototype is expected to be completed by September this year.
As part of the project, the partnership between Vejdusit and the designers will look to produce a limited collection of adaptive clothing pieces.
"We hope to sell at least 5,000 adaptive clothing items when all is said and done," said Assoc Prof Ajjima Srethaputr, committee member and secretary of the Vejdusit Foundation at the launch event. All sales will count as donations towards foundations that will help those with disabilities.

Sewing patterns and clothing components allow for the clothes to be easily worn and taken off. FleishmanHillard

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