For most, getting dressed each day is a given and does not require much effort at all.
However, for people with disabilities, it is a whole different experience that can even be likened to a “struggle”.
Founder of Will & Well, Elisa Lim, was in her early twenties when she realised that there was a need to make apparel for the disabled that could be worn more easily.
The 26-year-old told Vulcan Post that she had always been passionate about fashion design, and pursued both a diploma and degree in fashion.
During the final year of her diploma in 2015, a doctor approached her to design clothes for his bedridden patients.
She took on the project and began speaking to many different patients, before realising that there was a huge need for inclusive clothing.
For the next two years, she went on to research on the topic, learning about the fashion needs of different disabled individuals.
“I spoke with patients, went to hospitals, elderly homes and social service agencies — to speak with people who were in wheelchairs, with cerebral palsy, and more,” she said.
In 2017, she graduated with a a degree in fashion design, and set up Will & Well, which was inspired by her final-year project that featured a clothing line for wheelchair users.
Marrying Fashion And Technology
Will & Well is an inclusive fashion label founded to improve lives by changing the way people wear clothing.
According to the brand, “many elements of modern clothing like buttons and back zippers have not been updated for centuries, and these inconveniences are further amplified for people with disabilities.”
Elisa and her team thus implements design thinking and technology to create new ways to wear clothing by marrying fashion and function.
Some of the technology behind Will & Well’s apparel include Magsnap — neodymium magnetic buttons that snap into place with simple movements, eliminating the need for conventional buttons.
Another is the Frontslit, parallel full-length zippers which allow pants to open fully. It is designed specially to assist caregivers, preventing tossing and turning, or tugging to put on pants.
“Fashion is first about aesthetics, you want to wear something because it looks good,” shared Elisa.
This was something she realised during her two years of research and interaction with people, which prompted her to design these functional yet fashionable pieces.
It is evident that a lot of focus is put on research before creating the final pieces.
“We really spend time to understand what the dressing challenges are, and we do so before we get down to designing,” said Elisa.
Will & Well also does customised apparel for clients. The process includes a consultation to understand the client’s needs, a design proposal, approval of the design, then fittings.
Most recently, the team created a “dress that lights up” for Amelia, a 14-year-old whose health conditions were not fully understood by her doctors.
The dress was highly customised to fit the needs of Amelia. For example, Amelia consumes through a feeding tube by her side and her parents have to lift her shirt up for meals.
Thus, Elisa and her team included an additional opening on the side with water-resistant fabric to help make Amelia’s meal times a more pleasant experience.
An Easier, Better Tomorrow
Elisa mused that when she first started out, she never had the intentions to set up a business.
However, she had already completed her research and “planted a seed of hope” in her research participants. She felt that the next natural step was to make these clothing items available for them.
The name ‘Will & Well’ was decided on a whim, and Elisa laughed when she mentioned that a friend of hers had thought about it whilst in the bathroom.
Despite that, she had a very “natural understanding” of what she wanted Will & Well to mean to her customers.
If they (customers) have the will to live a good life, we will be here to make it well for them. That’s essentially what our products and services do for people.Elisa Lim, Founder of Will & Well in an interview with Vulcan Post
Will & Well was incorporated three years ago, and the most fulfilling aspect of the business to Elisa is being able to meet the needs of her clients and customers.
The brand has since also branched out to conducting workshops — Sew Simple — that teach customers how to re-style and re-design existing clothes to improve its functionality.
They have also just launched their second collection online, which features more variations in sizes and style.
Elisa believes that fashion is a medium to social innovation, and she has been fortunate to keep creating solutions for her clients.
“It might not be 100%, but we are inching towards an easier, better tomorrow,” she said.
Featured Image Credit: Will & Well via Facebook