‘Empathy is an important factor in design’

Designer Joe Ikareth talks about his ‘Move Ability’ clothing line for people with special needs. December 3 is World Disability Day

Designer Joe Ikareth has a line, ‘Move Ability’, for people with special needs. Clothing for the disabled, as a concept, has been close to him, he says. Based in Kottayam, where he works out of his home studio, Joe prefers to look at disability as ability. The line he has created has been modelled on this outlook.

A product of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, Joe has worked with the Kerala fabric, giving it a contemporary spin and has worked with dancers, devoting a line to them inspired by movement. He has a store in Mattancherry, Kochi, and retails to big metros across India.

An interview with Joe Ikareth.

Your idea behind creating a designer line for the disabled?

How long does it take to put on your shirt in the morning? This is a question that most of us do not think of on a daily basis. For an able-bodied person, this could be less than a minute. But for a differently-abled person, or a person with reduced mobility, this day-to-day routine can feel like a seemingly endless struggle.

Move Ability clothing provides clothing solutions for differently abled people / people with special needs that answer an increasing need for ease of dressing and undressing. The motivation for this project is based on our experience as parents of a 14-year-old daughter Tilotama, who has a partially paralysed right arm. We have developed clothes that allow her a sense of independence and we would love to spread this sense of self-empowerment amongst the differently abled/ people with special needs.

How do you address the mobility issue?

Move Ability clothing is an evolution of design principles and ideas, which I continue to develop along with my clothing line “Joe Ikareth”.

The experience of working on clothes for dance companies led me into designing clothes with a strong focus on movement. This has become an integral part of my design for contemporary clothing. We apply this concept to pattern make ergonomical and personalised designs based on the person’s ability for ‘Move Ability’ clothing. Empathy is an important factor in designing clothes for people with special needs.

What kind of detailing does the collection have?

The clothes are not only for people with restricted mobility but also for ageing population and post surgery clothing. The requirements for each are different. Though we have certain basic models, a design that suits a wheel chair user may not be right for one who has another kind of movement. We use a lot of magnets, Velcro, zip and loops, depending on the requirement.

Have other designers ventured into this?

This is a growing market that needs to be addressed. Brands like Tommy Hilfiger have an adaptive range now.

Have you followed a colour scheme, if so what and why?

We have used contrast colours for the top and bottoms. Most of the clothes focus on the design/cut that is made for each special need. We individualise the designs quite often for people and also help them bring out their individuality with colours that suit them.

Where are you retailing from?

Move Ability has just finished an exhibition at Creo Lifestyle in Mumbai. The Move Ability clothing line is available at the “Joe Ikareth” store in Mattancherry and people can contact us directly at www.moveability.in. We also adapt any of the clothes at the “Joe Ikareth” store for people with special needs.

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