Lucy Jones, BFA Fashion Design ’15, envisions creating a more inclusive world through fashion. In 2012, the Parsons student was challenged in a course to “design something to change the world.” In response, Jones created a pair of pants for her cousin Jake, who is hemiplegic and spends much of his time in a wheelchair. She sought to make attractive, comfortable, and wearable clothing for differently abled individuals, including those who are wheelchair reliant.
After the course was over, Jones developed the project into her thesis, Seated Design: Advantage Blocks—An Introduction, a comprehensive research work on universal fashion and an accompanying apparel collection created for self-propelled, seated consumers. With the help of United Cerebral Palsy in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Jones conducted focus groups, interviewing seated individuals about their experience using industry-standard clothing.
In Seated Design, Jones introduced readers to “advantage blocks” — clothing features that address fit and function issues specific to wheelchair users, such as the excessive wear that comes with sitting — such as reinforced sleeves. In her garments, Jones also incorporated other design details to help wearers dress more easily, thereby gaining greater independence. Jones ultimately hopes to use her thesis to sustain the conversation between designers and differently abled individuals about universal fashion design.
For her pioneering work, Jones was named Parsons Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2015 and won The New School’s New Challenge social innovation prize the same year. She has continued to investigate universal fashion and was a semifinalist in the 2015 Eileen Fisher X CFDA Social Innovator competition. In 2016, Jones was also included on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list of notable young creative talents.
Last year Jones was tapped to become the first creative director of Runway of Dreams, a nonprofit that partners with fashion brands to adapt mainstream fashion for differently abled wearers. The organization is currently collaborating with Tommy Hilfiger — the first major fashion house to create clothing for children with disabilities — to develop a line with features including magnetic buttons and Velcro closures on denim pants and cotton shirts to make popular, stylish items easier to wear.