Social isolation is a complex issue with various causes and solutions. In Muthiah's case, his social worker saw a unique solution with potentially wide-ranging social impact — pants.
Muthiah has a condition called Lymphatic filariasis (a.k.a. elephantiasis), which causes enlargement of his lower limbs, and wears a sarong instead of conventional pants. Since he was diagnosed with this condition in 2014, he did not want people to see or talk about his legs and never left his house apart from going for dialysis.
"How can you dare to go out like this?" a friend once remarked. Muthiah felt ashamed, witnessing his friend's reaction to him wearing a sarong with legs bandaged. As a person with a masculine demeanour and accustomed to having a tough image, he believed he could no longer face modern society. This gradually resulted in losing his social life, dignity, and independence.
Hearing Muthiah's story from his social worker, we wanted to make pants a reality for him through our customisation service.
Muthiah's condition makes his legs so heavy that they become challenging to lift, so we applied our FrontSlit feature to allow the pants to fully open lengthwise. No need for tugging legs through leg holes!
Snap button and and full-length zipper (FrontSlit) from the top of the pant leg.
Full-length zipper (FrontSlit) to the bottom of the pant leg makes putting on pants much easier.
Did Someone Say Denim?
To reflect Muthiah's masculine personality and style, we used denim as the material of his pants. The denim was soft, comfortable, and slightly stretchy, making it functional and fashionable for Muthiah. He never thought that he could wear pants again, let alone denim, so it was like a dream for him!
Made for Independence
Since Muthiah could use the toilet by himself, we added a snap button before the zippers so he could easily undo his pants. We also used a double-head zipper — allowing the zip to be used in either direction — to make it easier for him and his caregiver to manage. Muthiah was able to help himself during the fitting session, which was really exciting to see!
The double-head zipper allows the pant legs to open up from either direction.
During the night-time fitting session, Muthiah was so excited about finally being able to go out that he dressed up in a matching shirt and sunglasses, ready to complete his outfit! He was thrilled to receive his pants, striking poses for the camera to show his family. Confidence was his best look.
Muthiah all dressed up, excited to be able to go out again.
When we do customisations, seeing clients receive their bespoke apparel is everything. Witnessing the sense of hope, liberty, and dignity shine anew on our clients' faces makes all the hard work we put in worth it. So many of us wouldn't have thought that something we take for granted daily, like a pair of pants, can make such a massive difference in a person's life!
Understanding Needs, Meeting Needs
Of course, one pair of pants would not be enough to sustain an active lifestyle. Muthiah's social worker recognised that resolving his need for pants would empower him with the confidence and dignity to overcome specific social issues. Hence, she shared Muthiah's story with her family, who all decided to chip in and sponsor him two pairs of pants!
We're glad that the social worker had taken the time to understand what Muthiah truly needed and actively made efforts to meet his need. Sometimes, even "small" solutions can have a significant impact.