Students and working professionals with disabilities will walk the ramp for Chennai-based fashion designer Shalini Vikasan, who has designed party wear adaptive clothing for them.
In an innovative concept-driven fundraising event, working professionals and students with disabilities will present designer adaptive clothing at an upcoming fashion show to be held on January 8 in Chennai. These showstoppers will grace the ramp with their presence to spread awareness about the need for such clothes.
For Shalini Vikasan, the designer behind this concept, it all started two years ago. Fresh out of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Shalini’s creative mind was looking for a new project and it was her loved ones who gave her inspiration.
Shalini noticed that her husband, who is wheelchair-bound, faces a lot of difficulty while getting dressed. Being a trained fashion designer, she decided to design clothes for him that would be comfortable as well as convenient.
“We often don’t see how the clothes designed for able-bodied people can be troublesome for the disabled. Take buttoned-up shirts for example. Some cannot even button their own shirts; they need someone’s help for that. While designing these clothes, I considered all these problems and came up with solutions that’d ease life for them,” says Shalini.
After designing shirts with magnetic buttons and pants with Velcro for her husband, Shalini designed a one-piece sari for her aunt who is also wheelchair-bound. Her aunt could only wear maxis and being a religious woman, it troubled her that she couldn’t go to a temple in that outfit. Realising her problem, Shalini designed a one-piece sari with pleats and blouse that can be worn as a housecoat.
“She is really happy with it. She says it’s very comfortable and makes her look very elegant! Since I have designed it in one-piece, she doesn’t have to wear a separate in-skirt,” says Shalini.
After seeing how happy and comfortable her husband and aunt were with the clothes, Shalini is now planning to launch her own brand of adaptive clothing.
Taking the first step towards that, she is going to showcase her collection at an upcoming fashion show in Chennai, where people with disabilities will walk the ramp. Trios Fashion Show 2017 is a fundraiser event for the organisation Courtesy Foundation that works for HIV positive children.
“I am presenting ten new designs, five for males and five for females at the show. The collection is primarily Indo-Western party wear but I am also planning to launch casual wear soon,” says Shalini.
When she decided to present the collection at the show, Shalini contacted an organisation named Vidya Sagar, which runs a school for children with disabilities. Through the organisation she found her models, a mix of working professionals and students. Before designing the clothes, Shalini talked to each of her models to understand their difficulties and tried to incorporate features to ease those problems.
“Designer wear in adaptive clothing is very rare. For the women who use diapers, I’ve given some extra crotch length. For those who lack motor skills, I have used magnetic buttons and Velcro. Also, I have made the zippers very easy to operate by making them longer and attaching a bigger loop,” says Shalini.
She has designed the clothing in such a manner that the people with disabilities can wear it independently. Designing the party wear has been a wonderful experience, she admits.
“You see, I have added all these features like Velcro and elastic for convenience, but I have also seen to it that it’s not visible. The clothes look like any normal clothing, so they won’t attract any curious stares. Why should adaptive wear be unattractive and baggy? I want to make pretty clothes for these people! I can always get celebrities and models to walk down the ramp, but seeing the happy and content faces of these people on my ramp will be a million dollar experience,” she concludes.