First Freedom Wear Meetup held in New York City

Written by: Sylvia Stein. Posted: July 16, 2014. 


We held our first Freedom Wear Meetup in New York City on June 25th, 2014.


Who came:

We had 6 highly engaged participants, including: the founder / inventor of Quikiks (the patented, hand-free, step in step out shoe); a founder of a soon-to-be-released clothing line targeted to the aging population; a Fashion / Design Professor interested in teaching a class / detailing a syllabus for a ‘Freedom Wear’ class around a very specific need/situation; a fashion / entrepreneur who has personal experience looking for / adapting existing clothes because of her disabilities, and a marketing professional interested in the aging market. 


What we talked about:

We had a lively discussion sharing our backgrounds, experiences and visions, and touched on a number of opportunity areas that might warrant further discussion and exploration. For example:



We began to discuss the full range of problems vis a vis dressing / undressing: Clinical (MS, Parkinson’s, Spinal injury etc.) as well as functional (difficulty flexing joints, tremors, stiffness, lack of coordination, etc.). In our next session we plan to take a more structured approach to mapping out all of these need states / problem areas.

  • Feel free to add clinical / functional need states / problem areas in the comments below.



We talked about current workarounds which are adopted by the various targets (aging, limited motion, disabilities etc) and also existing products (ie wrap around skirts) that are currently being adopted / adapted by this target. We plan to flesh out both a comprehensive list of workarounds, as well as existing clothing products that are being adopted / adapted by this target. In addition we plan to review current products being marketed for this target / use-case.

  • Feel free to add workarounds, as well as existing products being adopted / adapted in the comments section below.


Responsive clothing:

In addition to talking about ways clothing can be designed to accommodate mobility / dexterity limitations, we had a lively discussion about the concept of ‘Responsive Clothing’: clothing which, whether through structural design or embedded technology, provides feedback that improves posture, or balance, for example.  (see  B-Shoe

  • Feel free to add ideas from ways clothing can provide feedback in the comments section below.


Clothing types:

We discussed a range of clothing items, from shoes & socks to dresses, skirts, pants etc.  Underwear / Bras came up quite a bit as ‘pain points.’ In the future we plan to explore all types of clothing in order to prioritize opportunity areas.

  • Feel free to add your clothing pet peeves in the comments section below.  What one item of clothing should we be focusing on?


Design students:

We talked about ways to engage Design Students in designing for this cohort / need state. How to get designers to put themselves in the place of people with ‘Freedom Wear” problems / issues?  Designers tend to design for themselves. How to get a designer to experience what it feels to sit in a wheelchair all day?



In addition to design / function we discussed fabrics, for example the fabric that NEVER needs to be washed!  We plan to explore fabric pro / cons vis a vis this cohort / need state in the future.

  • Feel free to add any experience you have had with different fabrics (positive and negative) in the comments section below.


Future steps:

As this was our first meeting, we focused primarily on getting to know each other. We plan to support each other in any way possible, join forces to collect information / research about the Freedom Wear target and need state, and possibly, in the future collaborate to address the needs of a very specific population, for example people living with MS.  

  • If you have MS, or know anyone with MS, feel free to add your Freedom Wear / MS story, problem, solution, work-around or “I wish….” in the comments section below.





Reader Comments: "First Freedom Wear Meetup held in New York City"


from John Milford (member) at July 20, 2014

Sylvia, congratulations on your leadership initiating this timely and much needed discussion in such a resource-rich location. I look forward to following your group's progress through your posts and articles on the Tech-enhanced Life website!


from Anna Lau (member) at July 26, 2014

Sylvia, thanks for getting this started! My mom has a textbook case of rheumatoid arthritis.  

Let's talk tops.  Buttons are impossible for disjointed fingers.  Limited range of arm motion makes it difficult to put on anything not made of stretchy materials including jackets and coats.  No itchy fabric please because it's hard to scratch an itch!  Our top solution is to buy stretchy material in a size too large so someone can help her wear them.  The neckline will be too large so often bra straps show.  Baggy clothes look frumpy and doesn't encourage good posture.

For bottoms, soft fabric is appreciated for thinned skin due to medication.  The waistband is a challenge. No buttons or zippers so that leaves Velcro or elastic.  Velcro is too hard to pull apart.  What most people consider as good elastic has too much tension to pull apart.  What has a waistband less than 3/4" wide and soft material?  Pajama bottoms in solid colors.  They tend to be a little short but are very affordable.

For shoes, only orthodics with multiple adjustable Velcro straps work.  Chooses are limited.

Wish list: affordable and fashionable clothes with universal design  Thanks for tackling this problem!


from Diane Greig (unverified) at April 07, 2020

Elastic shoe laces can be helpful & adaptive.

Discuss, Comment, Ask Questions


Key words: 
clothing, Freedom Wear, MS, mobility, dexterity

Last Updated: May 13, 2020.

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