The mass human migration occurring right now is unprecedented in scale. While people have always moved to new places seeking a better life, this is different. The conflict in Syria is the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, with 12 million people displaced. Huge numbers of people are moving around the globe — from Central America and Senegal and beyond — fleeing violence and looking for a better situation for their families. So there's plenty of conversation about how to help them.
Instead of talking about it, Parsons fashion design student Angela Luna decided to take action.
As a part of her senior thesis, Luna created a line of clothing called Adiff. Each jacket she designed is based on meeting a need — a need for shelter, camouflage, sleeping, carrying belongings or children, even flotation. To determine what problems she could solve via design, she examined images of real refugees, read articles and called humanitarian agencies who worked with the migrants.
According to Luna's interview on NPR (listen to the full audio below): "There are two jackets in the collection that convert into tents. One of them is a smaller size tent that can fit about two people comfortably and then the other jacket fits about a family of five to six people, so that one is very large. They kind of look like long, poncho, raincoat, cape kind of things.”
“There’s also a jacket that converts into a sleeping bag, a jacket that converts into a backpack, another jacket that is entirely reflective on one side, on the inside it’s reversible. It’s designed for hiding because I know refugees do have issues with needing to be seen and needing to hide at other times. Another one was an inflatable flotational jacket, so there is a panel you can blow up with air and in theory it would keep you afloat in the water and you can deflate it when you get to land and actually wear it for the rest of your journey. There’s also a child-carrying jacket as well that has a removable baby harness,” says Luna in the interview.
Her line has already won accolades for her designs, including the Parsons' Designer of the Year Womenswear Award.
It's a pretty impressive collection. Even if you don't agree with the idea behind it (the concept has received some pushback), the sheer engineering and unique pattern-making that must have gone into crafting garments that convert to sleeping bags, flotation devices and tents is remarkable.
Luna is serious about making this line of benefit: She says her model follows the Toms Shoes "buy one, give one" mantra. "I would love to have [my line] based on this business model, where the sales of the jacket or anything from the collection really, the proceeds go towards the production and distribution of edited versions of these jackets, which would be donated to refugees," says Luna.