Young Arabs are coming of age during a period of significant change and transition. Traditional notions about work, identity, opportunity, and mobility are all changing, and young people are leading the way by bringing about new models of work, their careers and entrepreneurship. Creator of the Delta Jacket, 22-year-old, Industrial Design graduate Aya Ayoubi, is making her own changes to the world around her, “I love creating out-of-the-box solutions to real-world problems, which I think can take shape in a product, app, or in this case: fashion,” she says.
“I was always interested in the refugee crisis in Jordan, so I sought to give refugees some much-needed comfort and stability. Being in the US made it harder to interview the refugees I endeavored to help, so the scope widened to the homeless as well, due to various overlaps in needs,” said Ayoubi. The Delta Jacket is inflatable and reversible, and was designed to provide homeless people or refugees with insulation and comfort in order to improve their standard of living. Dubbed ‘Humanitarian Couture’, the jacket aims to help less fortunate individuals adapt to changes in the weather and environment. It also hopes to combat the stigma against the unsheltered by offering them a garment that could fulfill some of their basic human needs,
Un-inflated, the Delta Jacket is a lightweight rain jacket that easily fits within a bag. It’s lined with a foil-like fabric, which traps body heat if worn facing inwards, and reflects the sun’s heat when worn facing outwards. As a result, it can keep you warm during winter and cool during summer. Inflated, the jacket morphs into a puffer-style parka, that holds an ergonomic pad to sleep on, “I was inspired by how birds, such as penguins, puff up their feathers to keep warm. But how could I translate that biomimicry (the scientific term for the imitation of nature) into fabric? I had to find a manufacturing process to accommodate my inspiration, which was also a challenge. The Delta Jacket is the product of these challenges,” says Ayoubi.
The garment marries fashion and function to go beyond comfort and insulation. Fashion aside, it is a feat of industrial design and engineering and is entirely engineered with the user’s needs in mind. Created with the same materials used in lightweight boats, the garment is waterproof, abrasion resistant and easy to clean. “When it came down to research, there was just a big dissonance between the nomadic, minimalist lifestyle of the homeless and the messy, heavy bedding that they had to hide or cart around. So came to be the Delta jacket: bedding, insulation, fashion all in one,” the designer said.
Having won two awards already, Ayoubi says it has been a rewarding and exciting journey developing the Delta Jacket. She believes that the jacket could initiate a constructive conversation around the issue of homelessness, saying, “I only hope to pay the exposure forward to raise awareness of refugees and the homeless, and help reduce the stigma surrounding them.”
In the future, she hopes to create other pieces of Humanitarian Couture to alleviate more of the world’s pressing issues, “For now, the Delta Jacket will be sold to those interested in its function: from campers to fashion enthusiasts. For every jacket sold, one will be donated to a refugee or homeless person,” though its partnership with non-profit organizations who come in contact with the homeless, Ayoubi said. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army have already agreed to distribute Delta once it is being manufactured.
Add yourself to the waiting list at www.deltajacket.com for the chance to do some good, and look good doing it.