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Hohenstein helps optimise wheelchair basketball clothing
Sep '15
In partnership with Biehler Sportswear, sports fashion design studio Eiermann+Hattenkerl has developed the first-ever optimised prototype collection for the 1st team of the Elxleben wheelchair basketball club RSB Thuringia Bulls.

Within just 12 years, the number of members in the German Disabled Sports Association has nearly doubled and numbers are still rising.

“Sabine Hattenkerl and Katrin Eiermann from the fashion design studio were quick to recognise the importance of this target group,” a Hohenstein Institute press release stated.

The product development was based on the extensive data generated by the Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim in Swabia as part of a research project on optimising sportswear for wheelchair users.

As a result of a project 'Smart-Fit-In, which was aimed at developing specially adapted and personalised products for people with restricted mobility, the two designers became aware of the innovation forum 'Adapted Fashion'.

"Thanks to the Smart-Fit-In and Adapted Fashion project, we learnt about lots of new requirements that people with disabilities have,” Sabine Hattenkerl explained.

“We were astonished to find this was an area where so much was still lacking, technically and from the point of view of design and so we were motivated to get involved," she added.

Through the innovation forum, they also came into contact with Lutz Leßmann, the manager of the wheelchair basketball team RSB Thuringia Bulls.

“Even though the players in his team are professionals, they are not kitted out by the leading sportswear manufacturers but have to fend for themselves when it comes to sportswear,” Hohenstein too added.

“So they go to team outfitters to have shirts and trousers printed or embroidered with their sponsors' logos and because the print is applied later, it has the effect of a sticker and reduces the breathability of the clothing,” Hohenstein also explained.

The designs are also not always very up-to-date and often don't suit the team's taste and technically, the fit of this clothing is not designed to meet the special needs of wheelchair users when playing basketball.

As part of research project, scientists at the Hohenstein Institute measured wheelchair users digitally in a stationary 3D body scanner and, using a portable hand scanner, in their sports wheelchair.

They made a lot of new findings like non-optimised trousers are generally too short at the back, round the waist, for wheelchair basketball players, and too long at the front.

Furthermore, most wheelchair athletes have very muscular upper bodies and arms and this must be taken into account when designing shirts and jackets.

To ensure a good fit, offering a great deal of freedom of movement, the garments therefore need to have specially adapted seam lines.

From this mass of data, Hohenstein experts were able to derive practical ways of optimising clothing for wheelchair athletes. These research results served as the basis for the current prototype collection. (AR)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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