Lead image by Myles Loftin. Images in body by Kilian Son, courtesy of Open Style Lab.

These Students Designed Functional and Stylish Clothes for Disabled Seniors

Open Style Lab's summer program at Parsons School of Design pairs engineers, designers, and therapists with a person with a disability to make accessible clothing, tech, and wearables. We took a look at this year's showcase.

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Aug 24 2018, 6:09pm

Lead image by Myles Loftin. Images in body by Kilian Son, courtesy of Open Style Lab.

For most able-bodied people, getting dressed in the morning without help and finding clothes that are both functional and stylish is a privilege you don’t typically spend much time thinking about. For those with physically prohibitive disabilities, however, getting dressed in clothes that are made for able-bodied people every morning can be taxing and frustrating. It is with that specific issue in mind that non-profit Open Style Lab (OSL) was founded in 2014 with the goal of “creating functional wearable solutions for people of all abilities without compromising on style,” according to their website.

To achieve that goal, OSL partners with Parsons School of Design for an annual summer program that pairs fellows with a disabled client and tasks them with creating clothing that makes their client’s life easier. This year, teams of fellows at Parsons were paired with people from Riverside Rehabilitation, a nursing home in New York.

One of the clients from Riverside Rehabilitation was a man named Robert Appelman. “Robert had deeply expressed [wanting] a jacket based on a baseball theme because he used to pitch,” explains Grace Jun the executive director of OSL. His team—consisting of fellows Bolar Amgalan, Herbert Ramirez, and Alyssa Brandofino—delivered just that for him. The jacket was not only styled in Appelman’s preference, but also includes openings from the front and back and pieces of fabric that he can easily pull to tighten the garment to make it easier for him to put on and adjust from his wheelchair.

Similarly to Appelman, other clients were made custom garments, which they got to keep, that best fit their lifestyles and stylistic preferences. For Harriet Moskowitz, her team fashioned a black, below-the-knee skirt that opens in the back like a curtain to facilitate going to the restroom; for Roxine Gassette, fellows created a wrap dress that she can put on with one hand without any assistance; for Wanda Rosario, fellows at Parsons created a rock ’n’ roll inspired leather jacket that allows for pain-free dressing; and for Michele Bachrach, who didn’t want her accessible clothing to compromise femininity or cleanliness, the fellows created a floor length skirt and a T-shirt with one of Llamaute’s own drawings on the front.

The 2018 Open Style Lab Summer Program at The New School Parsons School of Design in partnership with The Riverside Premier Rehabilitation and Healing Center (which was sponsored by the Make It Awards, The Woolmark Company, and Polartec) came to an end last week at a final showcase held at The New School.

Check out the fabulously functionally styled clients form Riverside Rehabilitation below and the Parsons fellows that made their looks happen.


Wanda Rosario and her team from left to right: Amelie Lavoie, Nicholas Paganelli, and Mikael Kalin.


Velda Alleyne in her stylish formal dress by Manlin Song, Lindsey Day, and Tiffany Hwang.


Robert Appelman in his baseball-inspired jacket by Bolar Amgalan, Herbert Ramirez, and Alyssa Brandofino.


Ada Stewart with her team from left to right: Grace Wu, Julie Osipow, and Heeyoung Kim.


Michele Bachrach in her skirt which includes her own drawings by Sid Llamaute, Jessica Otolo, and Camila Chiriboga.


Roxine Gassette with her team from left to right: Ray LC, Michael Tranquilli, and Alyssa Wardrop.


Harriet Moskowitz in her functional skirt by Julia Lemle, Karen Moskowitz, and Amy Yu Chen.

OSL Team: Grace Jun, Christina Mallon, Pinar Guvenc, Kristine Keller, Lexie Komisar, Kilian Son, Johnathan Hayden, Julia Liao, Vanessa Sanchez, Kieran Kern, and Irene Park

Riverside Rehab Team: Ashley Romano, Cathy Diamond, and Lindsey Hall