Challenging stigma by embodying smart functionalities and fashion in assistive clothing co-designed with older adults

Danying Yang*, Louise Moody

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Despite awareness of the impact of ageing, age-related stereotypes are still embedded and reinforced in our culture. The MATUROLIFE project aims to develop assistive technology (AT) to support independent ageing and well-being with a particular focus on addressing the stigma often associated with use of an assistive device. As well as the focus on innovation and technological development, the project provides learning opportunities for fashion design students, providing exposure to new materials and the application of user-centred design for older adults.
This paper will outline how smart textile solutions have been co-designed with older adults across nine European countries. Semi-structured interviews and co-creation workshops were undertaken to prioritise user needs, establish priorities, and inform the design and development of assistive clothing. As well as guiding the design work, the user research has informed higher education experiences. The paper will outline how fashion design students have taken part in workshop activities to develop designs that embed smart technology whilst prioritising the needs of older end-users.
The resulting designs demonstrate that innovation in smart technology coupled with a sensitive design approach can result in clothing that is assistive whilst addressing the psychological and social impact of ageing as well as the associated stigma of using AT. Project-based and research-informed teaching offers a new generation of designers collaborative design and innovation capabilities that should enable them to design for different ages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th International Conference on Design4Health
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherUniversity of Sheffield
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-1-8381117-0-0
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
EventThe 6th International Conference on Design4Health - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 1 Jul 20203 Jul 2020


ConferenceThe 6th International Conference on Design4Health


  • Smart clothing
  • Stigma
  • Assistive technology
  • Co-design
  • Fashion education


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