Home Arts & culture Designing ergonomic fashion for musculoskeletal conditions

Designing ergonomic fashion for musculoskeletal conditions

23 March 2017
Designing ergonomic fashion for musculoskeletal conditions

A new fashion range of clothes – Garment+ – created by a medic at King’s could reduce pain and improve quality of life for people with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions.

Dr Heidi Lempp from the Department of Academic Rheumatology at King’s collaborated with fashion designer Alexa Chan, a graduate of the London College of Fashion and an expert in wearables in healthcare, and a group of people with MSK conditions to co-create new the range of new garments.

Co-designed with patients and with a focus on ergonomics, mobility and aesthetics, the new fashion range has been tested with patients and exhibited as part of a public installation within King’s College Hospital.


The research behind the new range investigates how conscientiously designed accommodative fashion can improve patients’ quality of life, reduce their suffering and give them back a sense of style, identity and control over their lives.

‘Fashion plays an important part in people’s lives. What we wear contributes to our sense of identity and wellbeing. This is no less true for people living with long-term MSK conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, who often have difficulty dressing due to pain, stiffness, fatigue, and restricted joint mobility’ explained Dr Lempp.

Existing studies have shown that people with MSK conditions see current ‘accommodative fashion’ as underscoring the notion of illness; that current design aesthetics are incompatible with their social lives or do not give them many options for how they want to look.

I harbor the hope that future clothing options will address the broader topic of user needs and therefore become more inclusive to often overlooked segments of the population. The input from the participating outpatients was invaluable; their experiences and first-hand knowledge guided the design process and enabled the establishment of new approaches to garment-wearing mechanisms’ said Alexa Chan

Find out more about the Division of Immunology, Infection and Inflammatory disease research at King’s and the medical courses on offer.

Garment +’  was a collaboration between King’s College London’s Department of Academic Rheumatology and Alexa Chan, brokered and supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s.

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