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The fashion collection that relieves chronic pain

A fashion student at Nottingham Trent University who has a chronic pain condition has created a clothing range to help people, like her, who have hidden disabilities.

Tegan Cooke (right)
Tegan Cooke (right) with a model wearing her designs

The fashion collection that relieves chronic pain

A fashion student who has a chronic pain condition has created a clothing range to help people, like her, who have hidden disabilities.

Tegan Cooke, 21, who has fibromyalgia which causes fatigue, insomnia and pain in her joints, has made a range of elevated loungewear to support people with similar conditions.

The BA Fashion Design student has centred her designs on the use of pressure therapy to provide a small amount of compression to the shoulders and knees in order to provide the wearer with comfort, as similar to a weighted blanket.

The garments feature quilted shapes which contain about one kilogram (kg) of tiny glass beads to provide calm-inducing pressure without being overly heavy.

The edges of the garments are bound so they are flat and smooth and the beads only require  small stitching to secure them inside the garment.

Tegan, from Tilehurst in Reading, incorporated an aesthetic of crystals as a metaphor for diamonds becoming strong under pressure.

She said: “Inclusive fashion is the next big thing, but I don’t think that people with hidden disabilities are catered for by the accessible market yet.

“I wanted to create clothing that helps relieve people’s symptoms, but which isn’t plain and boring. So I’ve designed elevated loungewear that’s comfortable, functional and fun.

“The pressure helps secure ‘clicky’ joints and prevents them from moving out of place and being uncomfortable. It also gives comfort to achy legs and makes the clothes soothing to wear.”

Tegan's design
A close-up of Tegan's design

Tegan’s designs include a long wrap coat with beads on the shoulders and at the hemline to provide pressure on the shoulders and knees whilst sitting. She has also created stylish wrist supports in fun colours complete with a trim so that they don’t fray.

The designs feature embroidery made from beads which provide a tactile quality for the wearer to rub with their hands, which can be therapeutic.

The garments are intended to be worn as part of a layering style to support people who are sensitive to changes in temperature, so that they can remove and add items accordingly.

“For my research I spoke to people with arthritis, fibromyalgia and PoTs (Postural tachycardia syndrome) and it’s clear that many people of all ages would benefit from these sorts of designs,” said Tegan.

“There’s particularly a niche for garments that consider wearers who have chronic pain, particularly for younger people who would like something on-trend and vibrant.

“Fibromyalgia is not uncommon – almost four per cent of the UK population have it, which equates to about 2.5 million people. So it’s really quite common, which means these sorts of clothes would benefit a lot of people.”

Tegan's designs are on public display for the 2023 Student Showcase, one of the largest displays of graduating art and design talent in the UK.

Emma Prince, course leader for Fashion Design at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Tegan has taken her personal experience of a hidden disability and created a range of garments which would literally benefit millions of other people.

“Her designs are simple and easy to incorporate in a wide range of clothing, and in doing so would help improve the lives of so many people who, like Tegan, suffer from chronic pain.”

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Chris Birkle, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2310, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023. It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 1 June 2023
  • Category: Press office; School of Art & Design