We asked ... Lisa Polk and Christian Schinnerl, hemdless

"hemdless is not just meant to represent disability fashion, but to also involve our society as a whole"

Without a shirt. That’s the translation for the project name hemdless. It alludes to the fact that people affected by trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) usually have a hard time finding clothes that fit. Young designers Lisa Polk and Christian Schinnerl didn’t want to leave it at that. REHACARE.com spoke with both of them about the benefit of angled buttonholes and the "6th Shirt".


Photo: Lisa Polk and Christian Schinnerl; Copyright: Phil Pham

Lisa Polk and Christian Schinnerl; © Phil Pham

You designed special shirts that are adapted to the physical dimensions of people with Down syndrome in your hemdless project. What makes these shirts so special?</b>

Lisa Polk and Christian Schinnerl: In terms of cut, we focused on three distinct characteristics. On the one hand, the shirt collar is wider, while the arms as well as the overall length of the shirt/blouse are shortened on the other. Fine motor skills were also considered in the shirt/blouse construction. The buttons are twice as big so that the wearer has an easier time to get the buttons through the buttonholes. The buttonholes are also sewn in on an angle, which makes it easier to dress on your own.

After creating five unique items, you took things a step further. What is the story behind the so-called "6th shirt"?

Polk, Schinnerl: hemdless is not just meant to represent disability fashion, but to also involve our society as a whole. There should be no difference between people with or without Down syndrome when it comes to fashion. This was once again a challenge in terms of cut, but hemdless was able to draw on our experience gained during this project and thus produce a coherent shirt/blouse. This is a shirt with ready-to-wear measurements.

Why is this project so dear to your hearts?

Polk, Schinnerl: At this point, hemdless has been involved in fashion for people with disabilities for three years. Given the positive response to the project, there appears to be a need for fashion for people with disabilities, which is something hemdless wants to address. This prompted us to expand the project. We value the work of all of the people that participated in this project. We were able to gain a lot of experience, which we all intend to share with the world in the form of fashion.
Photo: Lisa Polk and young man with trisomy 21; Copyright: Clemens Krüger
Photo: Lisa Polk and Christian Schinnerl cutting fabrics; Copyright: Clemens Krüger
Photo: Lisa Polk using a sewing machine; Copyright: Clemens Krüger
Photo: Photo shooting of the collection; Copyright: Clemens Krüger
Photo: Young woman with trisomy 21 during photo shooting; Copyright: Clemens Krüger
Photo: Young man with trisomy 21 and a woman; Copyright: Phil Pham
What does inclusion mean to you?

Polk, Schinnerl: Today’s society increasingly focuses on integrating people with disabilities into everyday life. A sense of belonging versus exclusion in all areas such as education, politics and fashion. Inclusion also means acceptance and appreciation of people with disabilities. All people regardless of age, origin or degree of disability should be able to make their own decisions and live independently. hemdless meets the demand for people with Down syndrome for properly fitting clothes.
More about hemdless (only in German) at: www.hemdless.de
Photo: Nadine Lormis; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann

Nadine Lormis
(translated by Elena O'Meara)