US performance fabric maker Polartec has once again joined forces with MIT's Open Style Lab on a research programme to create functional and stylish clothing for people with disabilities.

The culmination of the summer programme, which advocates for better inclusion in the fashion industry, was revealed at an event in Boston at the weekend. The programme involved a team of designers, engineers, and occupational therapists, and builds on relationship already established between the two firms who regularly collaborate to solve problems with fabric in technology. 

Now in its third year, Open Style Lab takes an interdisciplinary approach to developing adaptive wear for people with disabilities – a market it says is traditionally under-served by the apparel industry. The lab divides students into groups and matches them with local clients to develop clothing that meets their specific needs. The 2016 summer programme produced wearable solutions for four disabled clients.

"From high-tech fabrics to wearable tech, a range of wearable solutions are produced at Open Style Lab," says Grace Jun, Open Style Lab executive director. "We emphasise purposeful aesthetics and considerate uses of technology when designing clothing solutions. Polartec's knowledge and resources of advanced fibres provide a fundamental step for the fellows when selecting materials to begin creating wearable solutions."

A spokesperson for Polartec told just-style the goal of the programme is to encourage more universal or inclusive design, and for it to be at least a miniature example of how the large and pretty slow-moving fashion industry can solve problems for people with specific needs.

"Polartec and Open Style Lab share a mission to innovate through textile solutions," adds Darren Josey, Polartec North America marketing manager. "We innovate by creating fabric technologies that solve problems. Open Style Lab takes this innovation further by creating wearable solutions for people who have specific needs not currently met by the market. Because of the creative ways they use our fabrics and the purpose behind it, they've become one of our most important partners."