Charlotte van Schalkwyk placed joint second in adaptive design competition

Elizabeth Galloway Academy’s CAD lecturer Charlotte van Schalkwyk is not only a computer expert; she also possesses notable skills as designer.

Adaptive clothing is clothing designed for people with disabilities, the elderly and anyone who struggles with dressing themselves for whatever reason. Features are for instance Velcro or magnetic closures, back or shoulder fastening that enables a carer to dress someone with more ease, elasticated waist bands, or longer back lengths on garments for a person who sits in a wheelchair. It is a highly innovative field in which the consumers and their diverse needs are central to the design process.


Example of adaptive closure

The category has been around for some time, but garments were functional rather than fashionable or stylish. Change is definitely happening on this front, though. In February 2018 Target released their Universal Thread adaptive apparel line, and Tommy Hilfiger followed suit with his Adaptive Spring 2018 collection.


The Tommy Hilfiger adaptive collection

Earlier this year, Create4, Adaptive Surfing SA and ReefSA, collaborated to call an international competition for the design of an adaptive wetsuit to be worn by surfers with disabilities. Being passionate about inclusive design, Charlotte decided to enter, and duly placed joint second!

Here, in her own words, is the well thought through rationale behind the design:

“Through my research I have found these to be some of the main challenges that amputees surfing with a prosthetic could face when it comes to current wetsuit designs:

  – Difficulty getting in and out of wetsuit without removing prosthetic leg.

  – Wear and tear of wetsuit that needs to stretch over heel area of the prosthetic leg.

  – The fit of the lower leg panel of the wetsuit is too loose around the prosthetic leg.

My design addresses the above concerns by adding a zip on the side that opens from the ankle to knee in order to allow easy access of the prosthetic leg. By adding an extra runner of zipper teeth, the lower panel is able to taper to the prosthetic leg in order to provide a close fit. The design ensures maximum adaptability as the wearer can utilize the zip to fit his/her specific needs.”

Front and side views of Charlotte’s design

Congratulations, Charlotte, on your achievement. We at EG are inordinately proud of you, and we also note the very good example you are setting to our students.