Undergraduate students Maxine Roeder (Sam Fox School), Shelei Pan (Arts & Sciences), and Miku Nambara (Engineering) received a CityStudioSTL Student Award in spring 2021 to support their project Made to Model, an adaptive fashion campaign and collaboration featuring models of all physical abilities. The team will work with WashU fashion design, engineering, and occupational therapy students to custom design dream dresses and suits for youth participants.
Starting with planning in summer 2021, the team will be partnering with Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis, KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) St. Louis, and Special School District (SSD) of St. Louis County. Together with these organizations, they hope to bring awareness to the issues of adaptive clothing, defined as clothing designed for people with disabilities who have difficulty dressing independently or experience sensory sensitivities toward certain textures and materials. Frequently, these individuals have to rely on help for dressing, or make accommodations to store-bought clothing to fit their needs. More fashion designers have begun to pay attention to these needs, and the Made to Model team will begin to address them, with a particular focus on formal wear.
Children enrolled in programs in SSD have the opportunity to take part in regular classroom and school-wide activities, including events such as homecoming, winter formal, and prom. It can be challenging for students who need adaptive clothing to find a dress or suit that fits properly, is affordable, and meets the wearer’s fashion sense.
The Made to Model team will work with youth from SSD and Variety the Children’s Charity as models, helping manifest each individual participant’s vision for their formal wear. Through interactive workshops and collaborative fittings, the team will create custom pieces for the models. In addition, the occupational therapy students will support the development of appropriate programming for collaborative sessions with the models. The collaboration will conclude with a fashion show, which the team hopes will become an annual event.