The startup ensures that everyone who has trouble wearing big-brand clothes is included
Most of us open a shirt or tie our shoelaces without a second thought, but it can be a daily challenge for the billions of people living with disabilities around the world.
A startup in Tel Aviv is tackling that challenge by encouraging fashion brands to make their clothes more accessible – using magnetic buttons, Velcro closures and buckles to fasten while sitting, standing or lying down.
Palta operates a certification program for clothing and products that include items for people with autism, cerebral palsy, arthritis or other motor disabilities. The certification analyzes data and user feedback, and uses 3D modeling to improve the inclusion of brands’ clothing.
“Palta is using data to democratize the world of fashion and bring the next generation of marketing and apparel to the world’s elite,” said Shay Sr., CEO and co-founder of Palta.
“We offer companies a complete package, from the shopping experience to the personalization of the garment.”
Many garments are easily adaptable, making them suitable for people with and without disabilities alike. For example, one-piece garments, garments with easy access for medical equipment such as feeding tubes, trousers cut higher in the back and lower in the front for wheelchair users, and shoes that allow the wearer to step into them without power.
Palta’s own inclusive design includes braille labels, 3D printed braille catalogs, digital (QR code) interactive labels with chatbot services, smart fabrics and versatile clothing.
Senior Paltan was formed after he injured his right hand during his military service in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and underwent a long rehabilitation process. He suffered from many daily activities such as holding objects and shaking hands.
“I noticed that the conversation around me changed depending on the brand of clothing I chose to wear that day. I realized how much clothes can influence who we are and what we represent.”
“It made me really passionate about this topic, and made me realize that people with disabilities are not really included and don’t have a place in the fashion world.”
Palta’s first major win was designing the official uniforms for Israeli athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. He used a methodology that included data analysis, user feedback, and 3D modeling to create a comprehensive set that catered to all participants.
Each garment is designed to be as accessible as possible to accommodate the widest range of needs and imperfections. For example, some suits have increased circumference for people with bionic arms. Others with mobility challenges have had their uniforms adjusted, making the difference between being able to dress independently or needing assistance.
“Clothes give us power and express ourselves as much as we can,” he said. “This should be especially true in a team that represents our country – that’s what unites them.
Certification program and teacher on inclusion
Palta’s main function is to rate brands on their clothing inclusions. After scoring the garments, Palta helps the brand with their design teams through workshops, which teach the brands to create better mobility and convey the message of inclusion through better marketing and PR.
“These three factors affect individuals with disabilities and determine whether they can wear a product and how they feel in it,” Senior tells Nocamels.
“Based on these parameters, we evaluate all the information we can receive from the brand. If it fits the specified parameters, the garment gets a score and then the brand can take action.”
Palta has also started to teach the next designers. The company offers a course for first-year fashion design students, sharing ingredients or techniques on how to make things accessible to people with disabilities. Seniors believe that if they see the benefits of inclusive design in the early stages of their research, it will be easier to see people with disabilities as an audience and as potential customers in the future.
“This next generation of fashion designers, whether they’re working for a brand or creating their own collection, they’re not afraid to design for other people,” he says.
The Neri Bloomfield Academy of Design and Education, a leading professional and academic institution of higher education in the arts in Haifa, northern Israel, is the first college to offer a palette course. Palta plans to expand the curriculum to more Israeli cities and countries, and is in talks with universities in the US, Italy and London.
Palta works with several Israeli companies, including Doreen Frankfurt, one of the most famous designers in Israel, Delta Galil, an Israeli textile company that owns several famous brands (Athena, Delta, 7 For All Humanity) and licensed select clothing. Top global brands (Adidas, Calvin Klein Kids, Ralph Lauren) and Cornit Digital Manufacturer of industrial and commercial printing solutions for the apparel and textile industries.
It is partnering with streetwear and sportswear in North America and an underwear company in Europe.
In the future, Palta aims to expand its inclusivity into different fashion categories (including shoes and accessories), help more brands become more inclusive for people with disabilities, and design collections for several delegates at the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
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