In an earlier entry on this blog, I mentioned meeting Hirokazu Nagaya at his boutique in the Mitsukoshi department store in Ginza. Nagaya’s business, Piro Racing, specializes in fashions and accessories for people who use wheelchairs. In the photo above, he demonstrates how to use a narrow bag with short straps that hangs from a seated person’s knee the way a conventional bag would hang from a standing person’s shoulder.
When I interviewed Nagaya for an article in Japan Close-up magazine last year, he told me that he uses – and sells – this kind of bag because he didn’t like having to leave his wallet out of reach in a bag hanging off the back of his wheelchair.
He also explained the special features of Piro Racing jeans, which I described in the article as follows:
…doctors told him that wheelchair users should not wear jeans because denim is a very stiff cloth that forms thick ridges where the material overlaps along the seams. This is dangerous for people with little or no nerve sensation in their lower bodies, as friction and pressure can cause bedsores – infected erosions of the flesh…
Still, Nagaya loved his jeans, and stubbornly refused to give up on wearing them again. He insisted that his mother [Atelier Longhouse designer Emiko Nagaya] find a way to customize jeans that were both good-looking and safe for wheelchair users to wear.
The jeans they came up with have no seams on the back, though they do have some purely ornamental – and flat – stitching that looks like seams. But that’s just the beginning. Denim cloth does not stretch horizontally or vertically, but it can stretch diagonally to a certain degree. Therefore, the cloth on the front of the jeans has threads running parallel to the wearer’s thighs, in the usual way, but the cloth on the seat is placed at an angle for greater flexibility. The waistband is standard in front, but more elastic in back. The fly has been lengthened, and the zipper has been replaced by Velcro, with a purely decorative metal button at the top.
“The invention came about because of his selfishness,” Emiko said cheerfully.
To read more about Nagaya, and Japan’s increasing degree of wheelchair accessibility, read the full article by clicking on the page scans below to enlarge them. For more about Japan Close-up magazine, click here; for more on Mitsukoshi, click here; and for Piro Racing wedding dresses, click here.