Designing with Disabilities in Mind: A Series of Online Masterclasses Organized by Beyond Form
If you have been part of the Fashionomics Africa community for a while, you’re most likely up to date with all the exciting events we post on a weekly basis. Due to the COVID-19 situation, most events are currently taking place online, particularly via Zoom. While we all miss face-to-face interactions and networking opportunities, these events have become more accessible for people from across the globe, as they are now able to join classes, talks and workshops set in places such as New York and Nairobi, from anywhere in the world. On top of that, many of these events and classes are now free of charge or available on a pay-what-you-want basis.
A series of fashion masterclasses we are particularly excited about, are those offered by Beyond Form, “an explorative fashion tech studio that exists to blend the physical with the digital; focused on disrupting the fashion system by combining design, technology and innovation. Beyond Form is a team of experts accelerating the convergence of fashion and technology to help retailers, brands and designers to solve complex design challenges. Our team experiments with the latest emerging technologies to ignite new ways of thinking and disrupt the fashion system. Our research included loT, artificial intelligence and 3D rapid prototyping; thus delivering forward-thinking projects. We foster connection, collaboration and creation to drive innovation, and have previously formed partnerships with brands such as Cisco, Accenture and University College London.”
Starting this month, Beyond Form is offering a stellar line-up of online live weekend and evening masterclasses such as Discover Digital Fashion Design, Inclusive Fashion: Design with Disabilities in Mind and Futureproof: You and Your Fashion Job with Tech. While these are all highly interesting topics, we are most excited about their evening masterclasses surrounding Design with Disabilities in Mind, which kick off on July 22nd, with the class, Insta Live: Bringing Visibility to Models with Disabilities. Featuring guest speaker, Mindy Scheier from the Runway of Dreams Modelling Agency & Fashion Show (US), this talk will focus on the modelling industry and its lack of visibility for those with disabilities. Hosted by Vongai N. Ruzive, the conversation aims to get viewers to rethink the runway and highlights how Scheier does just that through her Runway of Dreams. This initial class will be followed up Insta Live: Adapting Fashion Technologies to be More Inclusive (July 29th), Insta Live: Inclusivity & Sustainability: Fashion’s Two Major Issues (August 6th), Evening Masterclass: Inclusive Fashion - Design with Disabilities in Mind (August 27th) and, finally, Weekend Masterclass: Inclusive Fashion – Design with Disabilities in Mind (August 29th). Here’s what you can expect for the 2-day masterclass on inclusive fashion and how fashion designers and retailers can offer fashion products and shopping experiences that cater to a variety of physical disabilities.
Hosted by young British womenswear fashion designer and founder of inclusive fashion brand, Von Ruz, Vongai Noreen Ruzive, you will be provided with theoretical and practical insights into the different cognitive and physical conditions out there (including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Paraplegia, etc.) and how their symptoms impact daily experiences with clothing (including sensory needs, using a wheelchair, fine motor skills, etc). Delivered as an online live session, Vongai will guide you through a series of interactive talks, demonstrations and activities to get you thinking about designing with disabilities in mind. During the 2-day masterclass (10 hours in total), you will be encouraged to dig deeper into your current knowledge surrounding disabilities, audit your current practises and be creative with inclusive fashion. No previous fashion education is required to attend, all you’re asked to do is to come prepared to have fun and be inspired!
We believe these masterclasses are of utmost importance, given that The Guardian dubbed 2019 the “landmark year for disabled fashion”, with designers such as Tommy Hilfiger and brands such as Fenty and Nike, making clothes for a disabled audience. This speaks for a welcome change in an industry that has been historically exclusive, one that is now pushing for diversity not just in terms of ethnicity, gender identity and body type, but also abilities. “The last year has seen a radical rethink in our understanding of how to design for disability. The rise in adaptive fashion – clothing specifically designed for those with disabilities and chronic conditions – reflects newfound awareness of inclusive design. In fact, searches for adaptive clothing saw an increase of 80% over 2019, according to global fashion search platform Lyst. This encompasses everything from discrete elasticated waistbands, which are pinch-free when seated, to magnetic fastenings for independent dressing. All aspects of the garment are fabricated with the wearer’s everyday challenges in mind. So, for many of the UK’s 13.9 million disabled people, it is welcome progress,” Lottie Jackson wrote for The Guardian.
“This year, ongoing conversations about diversity in fashion have provoked questions such as: how can brands better cater to all minority groups? But when it comes to designing for a wide range of disabilities, this simple question is still considered a Herculean task. The design process is multifaceted and often demands medical input,” Jackson continues. “According to Stephanie Thomas, disability stylist and founder of Cur8able, there are three vital requirements – a garment must be accessible when dressing, medically safe, and all-importantly look fashionable. Ten years in the making, her trademarked Disability Fashion Styling System has become the definitive guide for adaptive fashion design. “As a woman with a disability I want to shop brands that are in line with my aesthetic … I like adaptive clothing that’s beautifully designed with disability in mind.”
We are super excited about Beyond Form’s masterclasses and can’t wait to see a new generation of designers rethinking their approach to fashion design to become more inclusive. If you’d like to sign up for one or all of these masterclasses, find more information right here.