Delhi-based girl Parul Sachdeva has come up with a designer line that allows visually impaired people to shop and dress independently.
Being visually impaired doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable, stylish or have individuality. Parul Sachdeva, a final year fashion design student of Pearl Academy, breaks the stereotype with her fashion line ‘6 Dots’ that focuses on designer clothing for the visually-impaired.
Parul’s collection incorporates simple features like Braille tags to enable wearers to know more about the garments. She says, “Braille tags will be attached in the garments which will contain all the details like size, colour, cost, etc so that it can be read without taking help from others. They loved the idea of Braille tags and how, it is a revolutionary facilitator for them to wear the clothes of their choice.”
“Research shows that a lack of functional and tailored clothes can make people feel excluded during job search or at social events — especially if disabled. The idea was to make them look nice and dignified,” shares Parul and adds, “I wanted to design outfits for them that are visually different, functional yet stylish. At the same time, I also ensured that the design aesthetics matches the international standard and induces confidence, independence and saves their time.”
The aim is for the customer to have a happy shopping experience, points out Parul. According to her, it helps to boost up his or her confidence. “This is an attempt at democratising fashion for the blind so that they get an equal opportunity to choose what they wear. Earlier, I’d developed tactile surfaces using cord. More recently, I have used wrinkle-free fabrics and emphasised on features like (textured) pockets — the pockets are also bigger because the wearers often have to keep their walking sticks inside. I also use the 2×1 method — if there are two pockets in front, there will be one in the back. It saves people time in figuring out which is the front side and which is the back.”
Talking about the idea behind designing the line, she says, “In our third year of the course, we have to do an industry project focusing on ‘social impact’ of fashion and how its seemingly unglamorous, yet impactful side can actually bring in a great change in someone’s life. I instantly thought of the blind, for whom, fashion, sadly, only means comfort and convenience. They don’t even know, most of the times, the aesthetic aspects of the design they are wearing unless someone tells them. Thus, fashion for them becomes imposed and undemocratic where someone shops for them on their behalf. I wanted to break the myth that they cannot shop alone.”
To understand their needs in terms of fashion and fabric, Parul visited blind associations and interacted with the end users directly. “I enjoyed the interactive sessions with the visually-challenged people and identified the need gap and accepted the lifelong challenge to work for the same. The conversations with them were aimed to understand their choices of colour, fashion and style. Many of them expressed how it took them hours to figure out which dress or shirt would fit them, and how life would be way easier if there was some indication of the size and colour of the garments. Also, one of the biggest challenges, according to them, was the dependency on someone to help them select and give them information about colours, fit etc of the clothes.That is when I decided to make this process an independent one for them. I also let the blind people feel and test my product before I formalised it in my collection.”