Having to wear a protective headgear because of preventing falls doesn't look very fashionable. But there's a way to express your own style and still being safe: The Ribcaps by Glomarket bvba were designed just for that. At REHACARE 2019, we talked with Nico De Wilde about the mixture of fashion and functionality and why it is important to have adaptive fashion brands for people with disabilities.
REHACARE.com talked to Nico De Wilde at the 2019 trade fair about fashion and why medical devices do not necessarily have to look as if they "only" have a medical benefit.
As a visitor looking at your booth one may ask: "What are they doing here?". Because your Ribcaps doesn’t look like protective helmets at all. Why is it that way?
Nico De Wilde: If you look at many products here, they all look on the topic of functionality and of course at the solution of a problem. We are also solving a problem, but we are doing it in a more fashionable way. And this you can also see at our booth. We tried to make it as fashionably as possible, so that it takes the view away from the technical, medical issues and creates a good atmosphere, a good feeling on the product. And that’s what people see here. They don’t see at first sight that it’s a helmet. And when we explain to them, they say "Wow, that’s great."
Actually, we are the only ones in the world who offer helmets in fashionable designs. Our Ribcaps are very comfortable and wearable. If you look at other competitors or other brands out there, they still make protective headgear that looks very medical and is therefore stigmatizing. This gives us a very good unique selling position in the production of fashionable but functional helmets.
In addition to the summer baseball caps, the ribcaps are also available as a winter version. The beanies keep you warm, but still offer protection.
The Ribcaps are an approved medical device and must pass the criteria for impact and retention system testing. Why is the combination of necessary functionality and style so important for your target group of people with neurological diseases?
De Wilde: Head injuries are a very big issue. Every year 64 million falls are registered as head injuries. And these are not just sports or motorcycle injuries, but people who have simply fallen over or tripped somewhere due to seizures. Our target group ranges from small children, young adults to seniors but all of them have a neurological disorder such as epileptic seizures or Parkinson's disease – any kind of disorder that involves an increased risk of falling or a loss of stability, so that the head has to be protected.
People with neurological conditions sometimes don’t have a high self-esteem because they get very isolated due to their health situation. And we want to give it back to them. By making these helmets fashionable we are fitting into the emerging range of adaptive brands. And our customers can feel reassured in going out again, can feel great again about themselves. It’s just a non stigmatizing way of wearing headgear.
You do have a summer and a winter edition of the RIBCAPS. What are the differences?
De Wilde: The difference is of course the season you wear them. (laughs) Well, you wear them every day, all day long. But you do want to change. You don’t want to wear the same clothes every day, do you? So we made Baseball caps and Beanies. The differences are the amount of yarn that we use. The Beanies are made for winter, they give you a warm and comfortable feeling on cold days. And the caps are mainly for the summer and they give you a more light and cool feeling.
To create a cool feeling we integrate a coolmax yarn on the inside, which is also used in cycling gear to get the moist and the heat out of the clothing. And we are using a unique soft foam that makes it high shock and impact protective but still breathable and flexible.
Well, it is not your first time at REHACARE. What does the trade fair mean to you as an exhibitor?
De Wilde: We like REHACARE because it is a well organized show and it attracts an international audience. We do have a good mix on B2B customers like distributors and resellers in different countries. And we also see end consumers and users here. So we can get feedback on our product and we do feel the need of our product, which is really important to us. And happily we do get a great amount of people to stop by at our booth each year.