Remembering My Hat

22nd October 2013

(a)Dressing the Ageing Demographic seminar: Part 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 18:26

Notes from a seminar. Part 1 here and part 2 here.

Jo-Anne Bichard

RCA Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design

Photos by Ali Winstanley – blog ‘the luminous eye’ [look at this] tumblr

HH Centre set up to explore design implications of demographic change.

Predecessor centre ran a similar seminar back in 1993 ‘designing for our future selves’ – included a seminar on textiles. Mick Jagger still featured as symbol of older man but only 50 then. Many things very similar. Drew up shopping list for change – some has been followed up – more colour, positive older models. But also wanted stuff we’ve been talking about today and can’t get.

Loads of interesting research within the centre [look at website]. Clothes that work better for people with arthritis. Orthotic shoes that don’t look horrible. ‘Smart pants’ which alert wearer that continence pad is in danger of overflowing.


Sonja Iltanen

Aalto University, Helsinki

Internal conflicts within the work of designers

Interested in interplay between clothing and the body.

Material reality, practices and interpretations & how these are played out in the dressed ageing body.

Has done 3 big projects about design and clothing, presenting here just the data from her interviews, surveys and other interactions with designers.

Thinks there is a gap in the market between mainstream fashion for people aged 50-65ish and care-focused clothing for people with dementia and other high support needs.

Mass market designers v reluctant to discuss ageing in clothing – claimed ageing doesn’t matter but users disagree.

Designers talked instead about ‘classic style’ and ‘a lady who needs elasticated waist bands’. User found these euphemisms amusing. A lot of praising of good models of ageing

Designers of clothes for care market: No denial, no euphemism, no talk of successful ageing. Knowledgeable, but maybe a bit do-gooding 

Practices very different for mainstream designers v. specialists in clothes for care market:

  • Large scale v. small scale businesses
  • Fashion buyers, previous yrs stats affect a lot what is bought v. competitive bidding – care facility buys the clothing. Imp role of care staff in buying
  • Consumer is v powerful. Functional and social needs considered v. Needs of the care staff are prioritised. Users’ needs only considered in functional term
  • [other contrasts I didn’t manage to type fast enough – really interesting analysis!]

Clothing that is designed to be impossible for PWD to get out of, to stop them taking their clothes off inappropriately – lock in neck that nurse holds key to. Found in many countries, incl UK. It is staff needs that are addressed, not residents. Bad practice! [Lots of horror in audience]

Some designers saw this as just another product in a line of products. Or medical need. Functional. A restraint. Dignifying. Stigmatising. Infantalising. Amusing. V diverse reactions.

Users highly skilled at reading the products – recognised age-related features and dementia related. Felt v offended by some.



1 Comment »

  1. […] More extensive notes from a seminar. I did say it was a really good day! Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here. […]

    Pingback by (a)Dressing the Ageing Demographic seminar: Part 4 | Remembering My Hat — 23rd October 2013 @ 10:47 | Reply

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