In this week’s Potato Spotlight feature, we will be casting the spotlight on Werable’s founder, Claudia Poh.
Werable creates easy-to-wear styles, thoughtfully designed for life. This includes easing dressing for people with disabilities and the ageing. Claudia embeds adaptive features in designer fashion!
Let’s read on to learn more about Claudia’s genius approach towards adaptive fashion, her experiences and goals for Werable!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a designer, researcher and also the founder of Werable. Design has always been such a huge part of my life and the greatest challenge has been to grow beyond the role of a designer.
That’s why I signed up for The Bridge Fashion Incubator, South-East Asia’s first fashion, beauty and fashion-tech incubator. I’m nearing the end of the program and I’m a little sad about it as I’ve made a few meaningful friendships along the way.
2. What excites you the most when it comes to fashion design?
Seeing a collection come together still feels like magic every time. Don’t get me wrong, I have many nights where I’m unpicking my sewing mistakes and it’s gruelling. It’s just the feeling I get after it’s all sewn together, it’s surreal.
3. Your unique approach towards designing clothes for people with disabilities has been featured in popular channels like Vogue. What inspired you to approach fashion design from an adaptive perspective?
It started back in 2017 when I was in my junior year at Parsons. I enrolled in a class where we were put into teams of 3 and paired with a client who was diagnosed with ALS. With my friends, Julia Liao and Estee Bruno, we made a coat that she could wear independently.
I had never experienced a group project like that before.
Everyone on the team wanted the same goal: to be able to make dressing easier for our friend. As we spent more time together, we encountered other design challenges. I started my senior year and felt that it was a great opportunity to tackle them once more.
My friend Amy Yu Chen and I then co-founded our thesis project, Cair Collective, where we designed clothing items to rise onto the body with built-in inflatable components hidden in the garments.
4. Walk us through what the process is like when it comes to designing adaptive fashion at Werable!
We have really open conversations about what kind of pieces would be easier to wear with our clients at the Stroke Support Station. A design process can start by asking why existing solutions aren’t good enough. It helps to determine who we are designing for, where and when they need to wear it.
I will then start to compile a wish list of sorts and I start prototyping on the popular ones. For the most recent design challenge, I made 6 iterations just for the sleeves. All a lot of it stems from having to juggle between function and aesthetics.
5. What is your greatest hope and goal for Werable?
My goal is for Werable to be the go-to for easy-to-wear fashion globally. We’re going to prove that the adaptive market isn’t too niche. We believe that we can start a for profit brand and also make a positive impact on the world.
6. What was the biggest challenge you had faced as a designer? Any valuable lessons you learnt from the experience?
Adaptive design typically starts with a problem statement experienced by the end user. Unlike other fashion design processes, we don’t know what the final outcome will look like, even after multiple iterations.
At its initial stages, we have to prioritise the performance of the product over its appearances. It took many adaptive projects for me to get accustomed to its ambiguity and it taught me to trust in the process.
7. List down the top 3 essential skills one needs to have if they wish to enter this industry!
Creative thinking, empathy and a strong visual language!
8. What surprised you the most when you started working at Potato?
I joined Potato full-time late 2019 right when I moved back from New York. It was a real challenge to readjust after being away for 7 years. There are some days when you show up at work and you can’t seem to put on a smile for anyone.
On one of those days, folks at Patatas, Special Projects and Tusitala really came through and cheered me up with my favorite cream puffs from Liang Court and snacks. (+ a gin and tonic >_<). I remember how it lifted me up.
I just felt really thankful that I belonged to this community.
9. If you could swap bodies with a well-known figure or celebrity for one day, who will it be and why?
Not a celebrity but I just wanna turn into a fluffy samoyed, eat snacks and get head pats while I nap.
To find out more about Claudia and Werable, check out their website here!