Published: 21st February 2020
How parenting helped this Kerala couple create clothing that helps the differently-abled really MOVE
Joe and Murielle Ikareth used clothes design and movement therapy to support their daughter and have now extended it for the general public through a clothing line tailored to their needs
Joe and Murielle Ikareth wrapped their baby girl in a blanket of answers. Tilotama was born with a partially paralysed arm amongst other physical issues. From the day she was born, Murielle has been working to help develop her range of movement through creative movement therapy. Watching them learning to move forward, Joe developed a range of clothing that gifted their daughter freedom: clothes that she could use for dressing and undressing with ease.
"The motivation for this project is based on our collective daily experience as parents of our 15-year-old. It has helped her increase her sense of confidence and be more independent and creative in her daily life," explains Joe. The couple jointly set up the brand Move Ability Clothing in Kottayam, which provides clothing solutions for differently-abled people or people with special needs that answer the same increasing need for ease of dressing and undressing. In addition to this, Move Ability conducts Creative Movement therapy workshops for individuals, corporations and institutions.
Move Ability is an evolution of design principles and ideas that has been developed along with Joe's clothing line Joe Ikareth. They create ergonomically well-designed clothes that changes the way people look at differently-abled people. The idea is to educate people about the needs of individuals with special needs. The duo believes that an ease in the way you dress can automatically help a person evolve by focusing on reduction of movement.
DESIGN MIND: They create ergonomical designs
Talking about their design process, Joe says, "Empathy is a necessary factor when designing clothes for people with special needs. We need to perceive how the person feels and adapt the clothes to their body. It is difficult to club all differently-abled people into one category of clothes design. I concentrate on their ability and I observe how their body compensates differently and how this changes their morphology and movement."
Movement is the key word here. “When I created costumes for dance, I realised the importance of integrating movement into clothes. Movement brings us a feeling of release and freedom. Clothes designed to facilitate us to move more freely celebrate our uniqueness and it is a way to express and accept ourselves. I use both pattern-making and draping to achieve the cuts and drapes for my collections,” says Joe.
In the Move Ability workshops for Creative Movement therapy, they use expressive movement and dance as a vehicle, through which an individual can engage in this process of personal growth. According to the trainers, moving even a small part of your body will have a direct effect on the functioning of the brain and immediately release stress and tension accumulated in the various parts of the body. The workshops include techniques that blend movement, music, yoga, games, improvisation and basic dance steps, to improve motor skills, self-expression, confidence, imagination and communicative skills.
Move Ability is working on rehabilitation projects in collaboration with Pallium India in Trivandrum and Asha Bhavan in Kottayam, Kerala, on creating story bags that tell the story of differently-abled persons who sew these bags — to honour diversity in the community. Joe says, "I believe that we all play a part in the changes we would like to see. Not just by talking about it or clicking the 'like' button on social media, but in real life. We can bring changes in our attitude towards ourselves and others. Regarding disabilities or just being different in any way or the other, we should dare to question our behaviour and thought towards differences and develop more curiosity, understanding and respect."