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Steven Claeys Creates MAKT, Dress Pants for People in Wheelchairs

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Steven Claeys understands the challenges many wheelchair-users face in trying to look good yet still be comfortable. “I’m a young man, and I’ve always found that your confidence level is higher when you are well-dressed,” Claeys told The Mighty. “After I had my accident it was difficult to accept I would never look the same. So I wanted to minimize the pain by wearing beautiful clothing, but I soon came to realize that normal clothing was really uncomfortable and even dangerous.”

Claeys asked his occupational therapists about adaptive clothing and was dismayed by the selection he saw online. According to Claeys, he had two options: wear less functional clothing that was either uncomfortable, ugly or dangerous or design a pair of pants that would be comfortable, fashionable and empowering for people with disabilities. He chose the latter.

Claeys’ design, the MAKT trousers, features a higher back and extended trouser legs as well as adaptations that protect from skin damage and pressure sores. MAKT pants also include features that can help the wearer get dressed by themselves, such as horizontal pullers on the back of the pants and magnetic closures instead of buttons.

MAKT pants aren’t available for purchase yet. Claeys is currently fundraising through Indiegogo so products can be produced with his first choice of fabric, which is more expensive. The pants are currently designed for men but can fit women as well, Claeys said. Once the pants are in production, Claeys hopes to design a line tailored to disabled women.

“One of my biggest frustrations is the fact that adapted wheelchair clothing already existed, but others always made a trade-off between comfort, looks, safety and empowerment,” Claeys told The Mighty. “I would also tell [other designers] to talk to their target audience, do some research before going to the drawing board. Too much products for people with disabilities don’t reach their full potential because the creators weren’t thorough enough.”

Beyond making a great pair of pants, Claeys wants to connect to the disability community. “What we really want to achieve with this crowdfunding campaign is to create a community of people that believe in the project and that are willing to help and give feedback,” he said. “Because I am not here for the money, I’m here to help people. If we don’t make our funding goal I still wanted people that backed the project to receive the perks we promised instead of nothing.”

With 17 days left to fund MAKT, Claeys is close to making his goal of $10,000. Those interested in receiving a pair of MAKT trousers can help fund the campaign at the $99 level and receive an early pair of dress pants. After the fundraising campaign, the pants will retail at €150 (about $158 USD). If he doesn’t meet his funding goal, Claeys said he will produce the pants with a different fabric. “We are working hard to try and lower the price for the second production run,” Claeys added. “But it will always be more expensive than your average adapted trousers.”

You can learn more about MAKT on Indiegogo

Originally published: December 14, 2016
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