Designing for Inclusivity — Fashion for All

"When you have the freedom and the opportunity to do your things, take full advantage and really do it with passion," shared Grace Jun, Foxcroft's 57th Alison Harrison Goodyear 1929 Fellow, who spoke with our campus community last week about her journey to starting Open Style Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating functional, wearable solutions for people of all abilities without compromising style.
Passion and accessibility were recurring themes as Jun shared her journey from an enthusiastic young artist — “I loved to draw and drew all over my mother's accounting books” — to curiosity about different tools. “My father was an engineer, so he made me assist him in fixing the car and broken laptops. But that got me to see a different side of design and the arts and ways that you could explore, and that translated to my work — how I look at 3D printing, machines, and fabrications to explore graphics and visuals in a different way.”

Her design curiosity served her well as a user experience (UX) designer and design strategist for the mobile device research team at Samsung Electronics. Still, ultimately, she realized something was missing. “What I really wanted to do was to share this with other people. I felt I was disconnected from my making and the products or things out there.” 

Jun then shared photos and stories of several inclusive designs, including a project with a close friend and breast cancer survivor for whom she created a series of garments that made it easier for the woman to dress herself. Jun also created a garment with sensors that could track the woman’s range of motion to help articulate her pain levels. 

All those experiences led Jun to launch the nonprofit Open Style Lab, which is celebrating its 10th year and where she now serves on the board. “[I am] quite proud that it has survived — more than survived; it has thrived. We work with disability communities, occupational physical therapists, engineers, designers, and disabled people to co-design any type of wearable solution, but sometimes also tools. This system was also replicated during my time as an MIT researcher and as a faculty at Parsons (The New School, Parsons School of Design). And now I'm trying to introduce some of that methodology at the University of Georgia.”

In closing, Jun shared lessons and advice with our students. “What I learned from doing this is that when you're applying your design and your skills, whatever you're studying, it creates value for other people. It also provides ways to increase competency for longer use, meaning people will hopefully use it longer than you think. It can also reduce stigma. If you think about stylish clothing to reduce disability stigma, that was one of the goals for a lot of my research. And so, applying my interdisciplinary skills and experiences, I had hoped to further my field of design in arts, and I know you can do it too.”

In addition to speaking with the Foxcroft community, Jun visited with a smaller group of STEAM students, student leaders, and members of the Chronic Illness and Disability Affinity Group over lunch. Later that evening, the local community was invited to campus to hear her speak.

Thank you to Grace Jun for her time and the Alison Harrison Goodyear 1929 Fellowship Program for providing this wonderful experience for our community.
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.