Fashion by MOB Industries: "Inclusion means to truly embrace all body types"
We asked Josefine Thom, MOB Industries
Fashion without barriers – that’s the mission of Viennese-based startup MOB Industries (German: Mode Ohne Barrieren, hence the abbreviation MOB). How has the coronavirus outbreak affected the company’s latest collection and how do functionality and aesthetics go hand in hand? REHACARE.com asked MOB founder and CEO Josefine Thom.
The MOB acronym stands for "fashion without barriers". How is this motto reflected in your work?
Josefine Thom: Our fashion is inclusive and accessible: function meets style – we make clothes that fit comfortably when seated or standing. Essentially all of our garments feature an innovative magnetic closure system designed to make independent dressing and undressing easy, quick, and comfortable. Special clothing cuts are optimized to fit the seated body types of wheelchair users and make fashion fun.
What makes your new MOB cares collection so unique?
Thom: Themed "Who cares? – MOB CARES", we created jackets and pants for wheelchair users with severe physical disabilities who need assistance in dressing and undressing. Our products are designed to make seated dressing and undressing quick, convenient and pain-free, and also greatly support assistants as it makes these processes easier on their bodies. The coronavirus pandemic prompted us to expand our target audience – pre-COVID-19, we only focused on active wheelchair users. Many people with multiple disabilities are at greater risk of the virus. They are among the vulnerable populations, are at higher levels of social isolation, and have difficulties in securing personal care attendants. Our new products mitigate these circumstances since wearers don’t have to depend on experts to help them dress or undress. Family members and friends can step in and quickly and easily dress wheelchair users, even if they can no longer physically perform other responsibilities of a personal assistant.
Whether wheelchair users, prosthesis wearers or people without disabilities – the fashion of MOB Industries aims to ensure that the designs meet as many requirements as possible. Always with a focus on functionality and aesthetics.
How are people with disabilities involved in the development and design of your clothes?
Thom: The special needs of wheelchair users drive the development and creation of our clothes. This process would be impossible without their participation in multiple fittings and redesigns. Wheelchair users, the MOB team and the designers collaborate to create fashion together. At our company, wheelchair users are the experts that sample our products. They are also our models and – in the case of our upcoming collection – our designers.
What does inclusion mean to you?
Thom: For us, inclusion is not a one-way street and doesn’t just benefit one side over another. For us, inclusion in terms of fashion means to truly embrace and cater to all body types. Disability should no longer be seen as a medical deficiency. That’s why fashion shouldn’t just meet functional medical needs, but must also be aesthetically pleasing and thoroughly modern.