Meet the Fashion Student Who Doesn’t Want to be Too Cool For School!

Kaleigh Slot is seeking a different style of cutting-edge design.

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Fashion designer drawing sketches for new collection.

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Kaleigh Slot is not your average fashion student. Instead of spending time thinking up the next big fashion trend, she set herself the more meaningful and ambitious challenge of creating clothing that can break the falls of elderly women, as the Morning Sun reports. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, on her Instagram profile, she describes herself as follows: “Treat people with kindness.  CMICH (Central Michigan University) apparel product development and merchandising technologies.” As an earlier Instagram post shares, she has long hoped to start her own clothing brand, and in the following post, she shows her gratitude to her college for the multiple fashion opportunities it has given her. 

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A post shared by Kaleigh Slot (@kaleighxmae)

Inspirational research
Falls are very common in seniors, and can lead to a rapid deterioration in health. As Centres for Disease Control and Prevention details. In the US, millions of citizens aged 65 or over, fall down each year; more than one in four older people.  Of these falls, 20 percent cause serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury which can rapidly decrease mobility and the ability to lead independent lives. Three million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries across the US every year.  

While seniors are less steady on their feet, and so especially vulnerable to falls, the Morning Sun explains, the available solutions, such as medical alert systems that can assist in calling for help after a fall, only kick in once the injury has happened.

Hailing from Charlotte, Michigan, fashion, merchandizing and design graduate student, Slot, has made it her mission to research how to design adaptive clothing that will prevent falls leading to injuries in its elderly female wearers in the first place, as well as giving them easy access to emergency call devices. 

This caring student presented the fruits of her research, entitled “Adaptive Clothing for Cushioning the Slips, Trips, and Falls of Elderly Women” that she conducted under the guidance of mentor Dr. Su Kyoung, her faculty advisor, at the recent annual conference of the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA). This is a global organization of textile and apparel scholars, as its LinkedIn profile summarizes.

Functional clothing at its finest
The need for adaptive clothing, or apparel that has been specially designed using assistive technology to make getting dressed and functioning when dressed more accessible to wearers with various disabilities and other needs, is now much more a part of mainstream discussion. A nod to style is appreciated too.  A non profit, Runway of Dreams, works to encourage next-gen design innovators to offer access to fashionable adaptive apparel.

According toGood Housekeeping, fsome adaptive clothing features including magnetic closures instead of buttons, sensory-friendly designs with flat seams aimed at children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other sensory sensitivities, pants cut higher in the back and lower at the front which are more comfortable for wheelchair users, and apparel with easy access points for medical equipment.

For this article, the magazine asked the Textiles Lab at its Good Housekeeping Institute, which focuses on product reviews, to rank its top trend-aware adaptive clothing brands. 

So which features has Slot incorporated into her own clothing designs? A key characteristic is discrete padding built into tops and bottoms to cushion falls. It is found in her aesthetically-aware and comfy styles for indoor as well as outdoor wear, which are designed to appeal to her target audience. The pieces of clothing also include practical pockets for essentials, and easy access to an emergency contact device. 

The Morning Sun observes that Slot’s designs aim to encourage more research and development into optimizing clothing for the older demographic, with a potentially revolutionary approach to fall damage prevention among seniors.

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