Prosthesis Instead of Pumps - Fashion for People with Disabilities
Mercedes-Benz supports the fashion concepts for people with disabilities of the Bezgraniz Couture organization ("Fashion without Borders"). Following fashion shows in Moscow, Bezgraniz has now gone on to conquer Los Angeles and additionally organized the first International Forum on Fashion for People with Disabilities.
Since 2010, Begraniz has been designing fashion for people with amputations, down syndrome, cerebral palsy and wheel chair users under the name of "Bezgraniz Couture". Previously, fashion shows have taken place during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Moscow since 2010. In October 2016, the fashion label had its début at the Fashion Week in Los Angeles.
Bezgraniz's approach is to combine aesthetics with special technical solutions. Clothing for people with cerebral palsy, for instance, is oriented to compensating for functional problems with dressing and undressing and certain movement sequences. For example, buttons are replaced by special velcro fasteners and special patterns are developed for individual pieces. "Our goal is to improve the quality of life for more than 18 percent of the population - namely, for people with disabilities", said Janina Urussowa and Tobias Reisner, founders of Bezgraniz Couture.
Style and wellness factor
Lee Hoblitzell is 33 years old and one of the models in Los Angeles. He can no longer move his legs and sits in a wheel chair. This is his first fashion show, which he entered because his friends encouraged him to apply. Now he has actually landed in the metropolitan city of Los Angeles and will be modelling a casual business look. In other words, a white top, wool jacket and suit trousers. The special feature: The trouser pockets are not attached to the seat of the trousers but at the legs. The seam would otherwise leave marks because of the constant seating position. "This new kind of design enables wheel chair users to experience a sense of fashion and well-being", explained Hoblitzell with enthusiasm.
In contrast to Lee, Anastasia Anbroskina is an "old pro". She has been working with Bezgraniz since 2012. Along with her modelling, she is also involved in innovative projects of Bezgraniz. In addition, since September 2015 she is in charge of presenting pilot collections and getting productions off the ground. She was diagnosed with polio in her early childhood but has never lost her joy in life. The 24-year-old is married and has a child, as well as a passion for horseback riding. She was the Russian champion for dressage at the Paralympic Games for the eighth time.
“The collaboration with Bezgraniz Couture is a great experience and is opening up totally new aspects of design for me: how to design comfortable and wearable clothing for people with physical limitations while also taking the fashion aspect in consideration. The clothing meets disabled people's demands for their individual daily needs”
After the big show, the organization invited visitors to an International Forum for Fashion for People with Disabilities. The dialogue, which was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, discussed the topic of "Design for a new customer in a new market". Experts from Australia, Canada, Russia, the Netherlands, Great Britain and the USA engaged in discussions about the economic and social influences on fashion and sustainable solutions for functional clothing and an active lifestyle.
Wearable clothing for the disabled is not designed for everyday use alone. At the International Forum for Fashion for People with Disabilities, the first canoeist from Hawaii to become a member of the US Paralympics Team, Ann Yoshida, underscored the need for sports attire that is tailored especially for athletes. Thus, the concept of Bezgraniz Couture is very much in demand and has high growth chances on the market.
"There is a big demand for clothing and accessories, which take certain physical aspects and limitations into account. Unfortunately, thus far, there has been very little on offer on the market. Bezgraniz Couture is driving this international project and with the involvement in Russia has already taken on a key pioneering role for covering the needs of this niche group" said Janina Urussowa, co-founder of Begraniz Couture.
For Mercedes-Benz, people with disabilities are important customers. According to Anahita Crawford, Manager for Diversity and Inclusion at Daimler Trucks North America, "Mercedes-Benz has already long understood that there is a customer group whose needs must also be considered. That's why we have invested in technologies to develop vehicles that give new freedom of mobility to people with disabilities".
The exoskeleton system
The exoskeleton system is an innovative product by Bezgraniz. Under the motto of "wearABLE future," the fashion brand designed the system in order to give people with movement disorders the chance to stand on their own feet and even to be able to walk.
About Bezgraniz Couture
In 2014, Bezgraniz Couture was the first organization worldwide to present functional and fashionable collections of clothing for disabled people on a catwalk of the magnitude of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Besides the special collections, the "Bezgraniz Couture" Project also provides training courses such as "Acropolis: How I found my body". The project has brought out visible similarities between sculptures from the antiquity and people with "bodies that are different" in order to show their individual beauty. The goal is to change society's perception of disabled people, but - first and foremost - to also change the affected persons own perceptions concerning their disabilities In addition to Mercedes-Benz, Bezraniz also receives support from Ottobrock, the Otto Group, the Burda Publishing House and Covestro.
The concept, which places the focus on people with disabilities, was also used as part of the designer show at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in 2015 . This was the first time models with physical limitations had gone down the catwalk. The show was repeated at the Fashion Week in Milan with a similarly positive response. In June 2015, the Global Diversity Leadership Exchange Conference in New York sponsored by the UN Global Compact presented Bezgraniz Couture as a Best Practice Initiative.