AARP Parsons
by Stephen Garner

AARP ParsonsAARP culminated a one-of-a-kind design competition with Parsons School of Design at The New School on Tuesday, May 9. Parsons senior Camila Chiriboga was named winner of the Disrupt Aging Design Challenge for her exploration of a more inclusive system of fashion for the blind and visually impaired featuring a redesigned tagging method to make to make her garments easier to identify and understand. The winning collection was chosen for its ability to: identify a critical design issue facing an aging population or user; research and develop a design that addresses the issue; and produce a garment or product that solves the identified problem

“With this collection, I set out to explore the ways in which fashion could expand beyond its visual language to include the senses of touch, smell, sound,” said Chiriboga. “What better way to do it than to work with a community, mostly comprised of people over 50 who have slowly lost their sight due to age or age related diseases, that have been excluded from the visual system of fashion until this point?”

AARP ParsonsThe Disrupt Aging Design Challenge grew out of AARP’s desire to explore the concept of aging in the fashion industry. It was launched this year to encourage students to explore design that leverages, rethinks and includes the needs of older fashion consumers during the design process.

During the 12-week design challenge, students worked alongside older co-collaborators – ranging from an 80-year-old with Parkinson’s disease to a collective of former inmates over 50. Students used various mediums of design to create items that refute traditional fashion stereotypes and provide wearable solutions to health issues that could accompany aging. The resulting designs ranged from a vest with extended wingspan for users with skeletal issues, shoes with integrated navigation for the blind, lasercut fabrics to rebrand the stereotypes faced by the previously incarcerated, buttonless apparel for degenerative disease sufferers and more.

“As we add more years to our lives, we need new thinking about how to make the most of this added time. AARP’s #DisruptAging campaign is a call for innovators like these students to consciously shape the future of aging,” added Debra Whitman, chief public policy officer at AARP. “This partnership with Parsons School of Design was created to inspire solution-based design concepts that deconstruct outdated beliefs about what it means to age and live well in society.”

AARP Parsons