Adaptable, our latest collection, didn’t start with anything lofty like a designer’s vision. It began with our weekly practice of adapting to the people we meet.
The Adaptable Archive
Every week over the past year, we’d gather around the table to talk. Each discussion would unfold in a similar fashion — we shared about the clients we met, the friends and strangers we came across in our lives and the dressing challenges they all faced. Then, we documented these challenges and cracked our heads over how clothing could adapt to their needs. One by one, these challenge-solutions are filed away into an archive until they are ready to be more than just thought experiments.
Adaptable is the culmination of these weekly discussions. We named it ‘Adaptable’ because we realised that this collection came from our efforts to always adapt to a wider range of dressing needs, and the result was a collection that can be worn and styled in multiple ways.
Starting from the Underserved
When we look at dressing challenges, we often start with the underserved minority. We believe that if a piece of clothing is easy to wear for someone with fine motor skills challenges, then it would naturally be easy to wear for everyone else. So, it was no surprise that much of the inspiration for this collection came from our commissioned customisations.
Whee Boon, a technician who had all four of his limbs amputated due to an infection, was the client who inspired our new feature – HangLoops. Something routine like toileting can become a major challenge for people who face dressing challenges. However, the challenge is further amplified as Whee Boon is unable to hold up his pants or use the zipper while toileting. We eventually came up with HangLoops, a pair of loops on the inside of the pants that can easily hang around your arms, holding up your pants whenever you need it.
Other adaptations like a zipper that transforms long pants into a pair of shorts and the two-way blouse that can easily be worn both from the front and the back, are all insights that arose when our clients and their caregivers highlighted the importance of having a versatile wardrobe.
Japanese Fabric & Local Partners
We fell in love with Japanese fabric, especially TENCEL™, on our journey to source for Adaptable. TENCEL™ is a sustainable linen made from the fibers of wood pulp that is softer, more cooling and also more eco-friendly than cotton. Through our work, we’ve come to learn that this is especially important for people who spend most of their time on wheelchairs or on the bed as it gets warm very easily.
For the colour palette of Adaptable, we quickly found ourselves drifting to neutral tones that reminded us of the natural world. We have always been drawn by how nature adapts so effortlessly and everything has its own place in the grand scheme of things.
When it was finally time for production, we knew that we wanted a local partner for Adaptable. We are still in the midst of Covid-19 and believe that it is more important than ever to keep our local ecosystem going. Thankfully, through a series of coincidences, we were ultimately introduced to Mrs Neo, the lady who runs the most peaceful and organised apparel manufacturing factory we have ever stepped foot in. We like to think that every piece of clothing from this collection is a result of the values, warmth and processes that Mrs Neo has built and instilled in her company over decades.
An employee in Mrs Neo's company in the midst of dressmaking.
A Final Note
Adaptable is our love letter to the unyielding spirit of the clients we have met on our journey so far. It is for those who find a path after losing their legs, those who see after losing their sight and those who adapt no matter the weather. We hope you will enjoy this collection just as much as we had fun putting it together!