How Open Style Lab Works

Open Style Lab teams up design, engineering and occupational therapy students to create clothing solutions for people with disabilities or their caretakers. It is a 10-week, Saturday-only program in Boston, MA, run by the MIT Assistive Technology Club.

Many events, physical locations and social groups have spoken and unspoken dress codes. While wheelchair accessible ramps have made their way to many of our building entrances, ‘accessible fashion’ is a concept which has not even crossed the minds of most able-bodied people today.

We aim to serve people with medical conditions that reduce their ability to independently dress themselves, or significantly limit the selection of clothing they can wear.

Here is a short documentary on how Open Style Lab works:


Multidisciplinary Approach to a Complex Issue

Designing clothing for people with disabilities is a complex challenge, requiring style, functionality and an understanding of healthcare considerations.

Hence, we’re inviting design, engineering and occupational therapy students to combine forces, and synergize their unique perspective and skills.


User-Centered Design Project with Social Impact

Teams of students are paired with clients who have specific apparel needs related to their medical conditions.

By spending time with clients in daily life settings, students gain a full understanding of their clothing-related challenges. Students and clients design and prototype functional yet stylish clothing solutions together, that address their client’s concerns in this user-centered design process. Each team will be given $500 to develop their clothing solution.


Mentorship and Professional Development

Teams are not alone in this process: Expert mentors, also comprising designers, engineers and occupational therapists, will provide guidance over the course of the project.

Students will also hear from leaders in wearable technology and adaptive design, and be immersed in workshops on developing a business plan and assembling a technical packet. These concrete skills will help equip our teams, if they wish, to commercialize their designs.

At the end of the program, teams will be given the opportunity to showcase their designs publicly at the Museum of Science, Boston.

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oslHow Open Style Lab Works

Comments 11

  1. Donna Laswell

    I am Ryan’s aunt and is the one who has been “repurposing” his pants to afford him greater independence. I am an independent seamstress in Waltham. I would LOVE to be involved in the investigations, discoveries, findings and development of clothing for people like Ryan who have disabilities. I can be reached via my email address or phone, 781-893-4765/home, 781-572-1317.

  2. susanne russell

    I absolutely love and support your program focusing on adaptive clothing design for individuals with disabilities.
    What an awesome project!! I would love to provide input and feedback, and check out your designs.
    Keep up the great work!
    Susanne Russell, MS OTR

  3. Kathy D Woods

    I’m very impressed with what Open Style Lab is trying to accomplish, because I’m a Little Person. “I know first hand what it’s like not finding the proper clothes that fit”! That’s exactly why I created the KDW Collection; “A designer clothing line for Little People”.

  4. Jane Hash

    Thank you for helping the world of fashion become more accessible. Our organizations should swap notes! #DisabilitySolidarity #BodyDiversity

  5. Peg Feodoroff

    When faced with 2 cancer diagnoses in 6 months, we 3 sisters decided to re-design the dreaded hospital gowns. Our Healing Threads shirts and pants may be something some of your clients may find useful.
    In any event, I too would like to help this very worthwhile endeavor. Spirited Sisters Inc., has been providing our garments to people undergoing any type of medical procedure since 2006.
    Congratulations on this wonderful Lab. If I can be of any help, please contact me at 508-269-9920.
    Kind regards,

  6. Cynthia Brenner

    I’ve been a theatrical costume designer almost as long as I’ve been an OT–Ka-ZING!! When Worlds Collide!!

  7. Lyn Worrall

    I am currently putting together a collection of childrenswear for kids with additional needs. Taking inspiration from GAP, Zara, Polarno y Pyret etc and creating clothes with easy access, soft fabrics, no labels etc with tons of style – Open Style Lab is music to my ears! Lyn (UK)

  8. Kathy D Woods

    I’m very impressed with what Open Style Lab is trying to accomplish, because I’m a Little Person. I know first hand what it’s like not finding the proper clothes that “fit”. That’s exactly why I created the Kathy D Woods collection ; A designer clothing line for Little People.

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