Many of us take for granted how easily we go about our lives, getting dressed in the morning without wondering how we are going to get that skirt or button down shirt on or where we can find clothing to fit our needs. We never stop to think what it would be like if the majority of our options were not made to fit our bodies.
For many, this is a reality dealt with on a daily basis, and yet seemingly rarely talked about. Enter the creatives at Academy of Art University. Early in 2018, a panel was formed with these questions: ‘Is good design always designing for the same few? Or is it designing for people in many different groups, including people with disabilities?’
As it turns out, this inequality is at the center of focus for a lot of people, and a lot of Academy of Art University students and alumni.
The Academy of Art University has been around since 1929 and offers accredited degrees in 21 different areas of study. Started by Sunset Magazine’s creative director Richard S. Stephens, who thought students should be accepted without an art portfolio and the school be taught by professional artists.
The Academy of Art University boasts some industry-leading and award-winning graduates, including world-famous painters, photographers, fashion designers, film directors and makeup, hair styling, and special effects experts.
Guest panelists, all of which deal with a disability of some kind were invited to speak. ‘I think the public wants to see a lot more diversity in fashion’, said Lisa Werner, the mother of a gymnast and model with Down syndrome. Another panelist Beau Oyler: ‘When I start the design process, I dive deep into really understanding who’s going to use this product…and how we can design it in a way that’s going to be a delight for them to use.’
With the inclusive fashion design panel convened, individual clothing needs were brought to the forefront, like viewing people with disabilities as legitimate fashion customers, and what the components are of universal design.
With diversity and inclusivity as the goal, the Academy of Art University makes strides in designing clothes for every body, because everybody matters.