Fashion and Medicine?? One would not think that these two words would ever go together but they do. Having been an allied health professional for three decades, I am very curious exploring the relationship between those 2 areas and have come up with some interesting relationships. However, I need to tell you where I am coming from.
Since I do not have a fashion background, that is academically speaking, I am taking steps to educate myself. In January, I am taking an introductory course on the apparel and textiles through the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC-online. In June, I will be in Ames, Iowa to begin a PhD in their distance PhD program in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising and Design. I will focus on dress and textile history because I am a historian. Even though my focus was always on architecture and historic preservation, there are viable connections between fashion and architecture. In early November, I attended my first fashion conference-the Annual Meeting of the International Textile and Apparel Association. I just attended this meeting for two days (Thurs. and Friday) and got a chance to meet my prospective faculty members at Iowa State. Attending this meeting was essential because I really want to assess the content and quality of the kinds of research that was discussed. Anyway-enough about the meeting and my educational plans.
But this is not a history blog post but one to demonstrate that there is a connection between fashion and medicine-since I also blog on health care topics. For example, last year in 2015, the Fashion School and the College of Podiatric Medicine at Kent State University collaborated on the development of a major product to help diabetics. A sock was created, based on MOOD RING technology, that changes color when variations in body temperature are created. Pretty amazing. Since diabetics have poor circulation in their feet and are prone to foot ulcers, one can surmise that such socks would help, especially during cold weather when temperatures would plunge leading to hypothermia. But even on a more simpler level, there are other topical considerations that demonstrate the linkages between fashion and medicine, as follows:
- the need, design and manufacture of brassieres for women who have undergone mastectomies for breast cancer
- adaptable clothing for special populations with disabilities, as well as the elderly, who may not be able use buttons and require other materials such as Velcro
- clothing such as hospital gowns for both patient and surgeon. Accessory items such as gloves, masks and headgear are also included, along with lab coats and specialty tunics
- medical textiles that are use in grafts, bandages, surgical implantation.
Clothing protects us from the elements of nature. In the colder months of winter, we may need warm thermal undergarments, heavy wool socks, flannel shirts, bulky sweaters lined trousers, to face freezing temperatures. We wear such winter clothing because we want to try avoiding the flu or a sore throat. In the summer, we wear big wide-brim hats and light-colored long-sleeve shirts, in order to be shielded from the intense UV rays of the sun so that we don’t develop skin cancer. However, the use of clothing transcends protection from the elements. Workers in a variety of occupations need protection, as well as, to protect the integrity of the technology that they are working with. Personnel who work in dust-free rooms assembling computer chips need to wear special outfits to ensure the quality of the finished product.
Fashion is what we put on our bodies. It transcends shopping at our favorite Chico’s or Gap store, wearing the latest apparel trend; wearing apparel that makes us feel good or watching “Runway” on television. Fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry that needs to be concerned with environmental sustainability and concerns us from the time of birth to the end of life when our last breath is taken. It represents a significant fraction of who we are and how we represent ourselves to the world. It can never be an issue that we can honestly disregard and hopefully never will.
cotton fiber embolism-clot formation caused by the application of cotton fibers in sterile gauze used in transfusions or IV medications
textural-pertaining to a tissue’s texture.