Thiruvananthapuram: 11-year-old Tilotama was born with damaged nerves which restricts her arm movements. This would mean that Tilotama would require assistance at every step of the way. But today, Tilotama is able to carry out many of her daily chores independently. All thanks to the love of her parents.
Joe Ikareth, the father, is a fashion designer. And his new range of clothes, under the brand name of Move Ability, is specially designed for the differently-abled. These designs, instead of buttons and zips, use magnets, Velcro and asymmetric cuts which shifts the focus away from evident body disproportions in a differently-abled person. Such designs also afford many people with disabilities to perform their daily tasks like dressing up or using the washroom without assistance.
"Being surrounded by differently-abled people helps you become more sensitive to them. The idea of making a clothing line started with Tilotama. Because of her practical challenges of going to school by herself, going to the toilet by herself... on a day to day basis. From that we developed Move Ability," said Joe Ikareth.
Tilotama who had just finished dancing with her mother as part of her movement therapy said, "Clothes with buttons and zips are difficult for me but the clothes my father designs are very easy to handle".
But it's not just a father-daughter story but a complete family tale. Crucial to Move Ability designs is Joe's wife, Murielle, a movement therapist from France. She helps Joe understand the extent of movement his creation would enable or restrict.
"If I cannot move completely and freely, I need to concentrate on what my body can do. Concentrate on what we can do and what we are able to do. We worked on the idea of how to adapt beautiful clothes to people who cannot move like we do", Murielle Ikareth said.
Today, Tilotama slips in and out of clothes by herself with ease and confidence. The confidence also reflects in the way she beautifully sways and dances with her mother, unhindered by her arms.
An estimated 6 per cent of the Indian population is differently-abled, and many of them from economically constrained families. Joe is now trying to get NGOs and corporates to subsidise the designs so that more and more people can afford them.