Adaptive Clothing

Clothes are often credited as a source of telling the world about who we are, our personalities, what we like or dislike. For some, like those in wheelchairs (just like those with Down Syndrome), it can be a form of expression that they cannot access with similar ease. The challenges of dressing while being in a permanently seated position might not appear large in number, but there’s a whole scope of factors to consider. This is where most clothing designs fall short. For Toronto designer Izzy Camilleri, it was also the realization that a new way to interpret clothes could be established with her IZ Adaptive Clothing line.

Over the past seven years, Camilleri has approached the unseen issues facing wheelchair users with their fashion options. “There are so many elements; it’s not just about bunching,” she says. “It’s about health issues as well.” Aesthetic touches such as back pockets on jeans can cause pressure sores; pants can dig into the front of the body while sitting and, because of how they’re cut, they can cut off breathing for some conditions. Even the thickness of a fabric can cause unanticipated complications.
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Inquire Within: Fashion Research Online

Part 2 in an ongoing series. Read part 1 here.

Since recognizing that curiosity for fashion research, you have hopefully now developed it into a healthy research query.

What began as “I wonder” is now a fully formed to-do list:

I’m going to find out x, y, and z
I need a variety of types of resources—some combination of articles, books, primary sources, opinion, images
I need reliable resources that I can cite with pride
I will start by looking into several fields of study (perhaps art history, business, sociology, etc).

The world is your oyster! Before you head to the library, though, have you figured out what awaits you online? There are so many more (and better) resources than your first 2 million Google search results, certainly. You just need to know how to delve further. To start finding more interesting results, it’s time to get strategic.

There is still an enormous amount of high quality web content that cannot be found, directly at least, on a search engine. In general, it’s good to remember that journal articles, records of archive holdings, and library catalog records might not be found in a basic web search. Skipping directly to secondary search websites also ensures the quality of your findings. A Google Image search for “cloche hat,” for example, retrieves 130,000 results, yet a quick search of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Collection returns 2,000 records, all cataloged with details like date, culture, materials, and a description of any labels or markings. Less is certainly more in this case: the value there is in both the amount of detail and the reliability of the institution.

Review your questions, particularly the fields you planned to search. What types of institutions and organizations would be the keepers, organizers, and creators of this information on the internet?
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Goodbye, Zelda Kaplan

Zelda Kaplan, New York socialite and eccentric, died on February 15 at the age of 95. The staple in New York’s art and club society was well-known for her outfits and her personality. After travelling around Africa and Asia after her second divorce (speaking to women in villages about birth control and female genital mutilation), she returned to New York with multitudes of African prints purchased directly from the weavers. She turned these into matching outfits ensembles, and was never seen in New York’s club district without her printed dress and matching tall hat.

Zelda was an enigma; she became famous for just being herself. She could out-party kids who were a third of her age, and didn’t care what people would have thought of her. She often stayed at clubs until they closed for the night, before making exits just as smooth as her entrances.

She was more than just her eccentric reputation; she was the passionate old woman with the spirit of a 20-year-old, the character of a philanthropist, and the nature of a true artiste.

Goodbye, Zelda Kaplan. The world will be a little less exuberant without you.

text by Sofie Mikhaylova

The Beauty in Binding

Binders are the antithesis of a bra. Bras, with their tendency to be colourful and embellished, are available in wild and wondrous patterns and shapes of every sort; they’re built to cup and lift, and designed to be seen and admired. Binders, on the other hand, are plain and inconspicuous, built to be worn like a second skin and designed not for the eye, but simply to perform a purpose; they flatten and shape a chest, creating a more masculine, square form for those who don’t wish to show their breasts. Bras have been considered beautiful and often liberating—but who says binders can’t be too? Kyle Lasky shows binders as a work of art in “Presence In Absense,” a photo series that captures the pain, liberation, and beauty in binders.

Kyle is a queer photographer based in Toronto who has just launched their first solo show with “Presence in Absence” this month at the female-friendly sex shop Come As You Are. Kyle chose binders because, “for a lot of people who bind, a binder is the final layer in undressing, so these photos actually function as nudes, they’re portraits of bare chests.” By presenting the binder as a chest itself, the wish of the wearer is being granted; the photos show almost no sign of a traditionally feminine form.

Binders are essentially an extremely tight fitting sort of modern version of a corset, and are used exclusively to flatten breasts and create a male contour chest. They’re worn almost equally by masculine identified people and feminine identified people, and most importantly they provide a surgery-free option of comfort for those who can’t afford the expenses and down-time a mastectomy can demand.
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