Wearable technology has been a trending topic for the last few years, but the market has grown over the past decade to include far more than just fitness trackers, smart watches, or sunglasses that can record video. Wearable technology, also known as “wearables,” encompasses any device or gadget with a practical use. Jeff Hiserman, PT, hosts a podcast called You Wear It… Well, where he discusses different forms of wearable technology and their functions. Our founder and CEO, Bimla Picot, was asked to join Jeff on his podcast this week to discuss the tech behind Reboundwear, what it does, who it is for, and how it helps! The podcast is now live and is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, and Podbay! A transcript of the podcast can be found below.
J: Let’s talk about the name a little bit! Where did the name Reboundwear come from? I really like it!
B: When we were looking for a name for the company we were trying to think of some great business names that already exist, like Nike, we wanted to know the logic behind coming up with Nike. You know, it’s from Greek mythology, but how did they land on that for a name? So we read all these stories about brands from their beginning and did many of our own brand exercises to come up with the right name. But nothing felt like it really encompassed the feel we wanted our product to have, we wanted it to be young and fun! So, I asked my godson, who was 11 at the time, what his thoughts were, as he was a young athlete himself playing soccer. He got some of his friends together and they were actually the ones to come up with the name. A few of them were basketball players, so they kept mentioning a play on the word rebound, both from the sports perspective and the healing perspective. To be honest, there are many people who love our clothes and wear our clothes every day, they have whole wardrobes of it because their sense of rebounding is very different. Some of them are living with limited mobility for their whole lifetime, but this helps them feel more fashionable, more positive about just getting through the day! Their mentality shifts to attacking those physical therapy exercises, being really committed to their physical therapy with the exercises that they’re recommended to do at home and when they are able to visit a gym. So it really applies to everyone, not just people in temporary situations.
J: And the style of clothing certainly reflects that! What were some of the challenges you faced in the early days and early stages of designing? On your website there are some little drawings, it’s a really beautiful website, but there are little designs and sketches and ideations there that you show, so I’m wondering if there were challenges you faced, like if you should use magnetic closures or not, or if you should use zippers, where to put the zippers, what kind of materials to use, so what were some of those early decisions, struggles, and hurdles that you faced?
B: Well, as I said we did a really deep dive into the research. I did not choose magnets because a lot of the people we interviewed have internal or external medical devices that magnets would interfere with. Our whole tagline is that “we make dressing easy,” we don’t want any part of the customer journey to be stressful, so we tried to make it easy to the point that you can wash it, wear it, it has zippers so you can dress easily. We did experiment with different kinds of closures, different zippers, snaps, velcro, we tried everything until we could find something that worked for the most cases, was easy to dress in, and looked great. Every time we were designing we made sure to ask ourselves, “Is this easy?” “Is the customer going to feel comfortable in this?” A lot of our customers have skin sensitivity issues because of the medications that they take, so we tried a lot of fabrics, and if it was itchy on us we knew it definitely would not work for our customers with sensitive skin. So you’re right, it took a lot of time and trial and error to come up with the perfect things, and the perfect things can be expensive. We had to make a decision, do we compromise the ease of how the product works and feels just to make it less expensive and accessible to more people? Do we go with cheaper trims and materials? The answer was no, because if the zippers broke while you were trying to use it, would that be easy or stressful? If the materials weren’t cozy and comfortable for the customer, was that worth them paying $10 less? No. So, we really made the decision to launch with a premium product because we feel like the people we sell to deserve it!
J: That’s a very good point. Let’s just say I have a medical condition that is not going to get any better, so I can maintain my physical abilities where they are at, but they will not improve. I would want to buy something that I know the zipper isn’t going to break in 6 months, I would want it to last years. Especially as a guy, you know, we really don’t go for the fashion trends so we will wear something until it rots off of our bodies. We want to buy things that will last a long time because we like to hold on to them, you know it’s kind of like a teddy bear or a favorite sweater I guess. The materials and zippers should last a long time because some of the customers are going to have difficulties with their movement for a long time, if not the rest of their lives, so why not have something that will last a long time? I agree with you, I think that people will really pay more to make sure they have something of quality. As far as choosing the materials that you put into the clothing, was that a difficult process?
B: I would say yes and no. I am very lucky, I live in New York City, which is the fashion capital of our country. When I launched the product, my assumption was that I would just go into the garment district and find everything the way I had done before for my line of baby clothes years ago. Unfortunately the fashion industry in the US has become somewhat decimated, so it was a lot harder to find the kinds of zippers and trims I was looking for, where I had so many choices in the past. So that was a little bit difficult.
But there were also some happy surprises! When I had the patterns made, I actually had them made at one of the pattern houses that makes really well-known fashion designs. They made the patterns and the designs with such perfect details, they knew intuitively that if I had zippers in the clothing, that the zippers shouldn’t touch the wearer's skin, so they designed the clothing patterns with that in mind. They actually designed the patterns with much more thoughtfulness than if I had gone to a place that just made very simple leggings with no bells and whistles. You know, our clothes have a lot of bells and whistles, they have zippers, panels, inner pockets, loops to hold drains, and it’s hard to manufacture that. It takes a lot of time, money and skill, so that was the biggest challenge in the beginning. Initially, everyone was like, “sure we can make you these athletic clothes, no problem!” But, when they saw how much detail went into the construction, it became a challenge. We really needed experts to make these clothes.
J: When you look at your clothes, you would never think that it had that kind of intricacy inside, you know, because it looks like regular attractive sportswear. You would never know that inside there are all these loops and pockets.
B: Everything is hidden!
J: You really do have to see it to believe it. That’s one of the things that made me think I have to get you on my show. Because I took one look and said, “This, this is really the ideal. Right here.” As far as the materials, I want to ask this question, I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it but, would your materials lend themselves to being able to have add-ons? Meaning as we start to see technology improving, and having sensors that could then blend with the materials you use, would you see your line of clothing moving in that direction? Like stretchy elastomer type sensors vs. metallic, would they lend themselves well to be put into your material.
B: So, we actually do have sensors in our clothes, we haven’t launched them yet, but we are launching it soon! So to answer your question, our clothes will have sensors in them and those sensors can be customized to each customer, so it’s very exciting! We are all about technology and we’re all about the future, we would love to get to a place where we are using 3D printing so that we can customize the clothing even further.
The concept of our clothes, it’s simple in theory but it can be hard to get your head around, but with Reboundwear, one garment does it all. It really does. When I started designing I realized I couldn’t just make a shirt for someone who only needed something on the left or right side of their body, or a shirt for someone wearing a monitor. I didn’t want to design site-specific clothing because as I said previously, in our research, we realized that these journeys are more similar than they are different. Many people, regardless of their condition, have to go for frequent check-ups of treatments, so we wanted one shirt to be able to work for every body. You may not need the internal pockets and loops for ports or drains, but it’s there for the person that does need it.
I am excited about using 3D printing because there are certain things we know we would like to have in the clothing, but it’s not possible for us to produce in quantities smaller than 10,000. We might not have 10,000 people that need that specific added feature, but 3D printing will allow us to produce those added features for the people who need it.
J: I will definitely be reaching out for another podcast when you launch the sensors in your clothing.
B: And we have a lot of other new products that will be launching over time so keep an eye out and keep looking, because you’ll find many many surprises in the coming months and years.
J: Keep me posted! Because each new breakthrough that you have coming though I would love to get you back on the show and learn more about it! I’m really excited about your company just from my perspective of bringing patients, people with disabilities, into the mainstream so they can be up and not look like they are having a physical problem.
B: What we say at Reboundwear is we design clothing for people of all abilities!
J: And it shows! Very much so!
B: It has been so nice to speak with you and I look forward to being in touch very very soon!
J: One more question before you go, I like to ask this to all my very special guests, where do you see this sector of wearables that you're in in 5 years?
B: Oh I think it will be much more commonplace! When I first started this company maybe 7 years ago, as we said at the beginning of the conversation, it was impossible to find any kind of clothes that were accessible or adaptable. This type of clothing will definitely be becoming more and more mainstream. I know and hope you’ll be able to find our clothes at stores like Target, you know not only sold online but available nearby in your local pharmacy, or wherever you may go to purchase your canes, or other medical supplies. So I think it will be more available sooner rather than later. I think in the next couple of years you will see all sorts of adaptive clothing and physical therapy equipment available in many more places.
J: Well that’s good! Making it accessible for people is where it is at! We want them to get better so they can have accessibility back to life again. Your whole apparel design encompasses that accessibility as well. I am really very excited to see what’s out there now and that you have more to come! So yes, we will certainly be in touch to get you back up on the show again when your latest breakthrough in design, or add-ons to the clothing, launches! Bimla, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to share with us what’s new in the adaptivewear market. Make sure you take a look at the clothing! You will be impressed, you may even want to order some yourself! It really is very nice looking clothing far from anything that I would ever dream would be for people with medical problems or post-surgical issues.
B: Well also to your point, people do buy them and keep them for a long time. And as a little side tip, if you’re getting a massage on your shoulders at the manicure salon, you just unzip the two zippers on the shoulders of our top, and you get a lot of bang for your $10 massage!
J: There you go!
B: So you can wear them and keep them for all sorts of things!
J: I’m sure, I mean they look like regular wear, regular athletic clothing. Like I said at the beginning of the show, when I first saw your clothes I thought, “wow I can see myself wearing that to a street festival, it just looks lean and clean!” It’s very nice!
B: Thanks so much again, and I look forward to circling back with you in the near future!
J: We look forward to it too, and you have a great rest of your day! Thank you!
B: You too!
Thank you to Jeff for hosting us on the You Wear It… Well podcast! We can’t wait for round 2! To stay up to date on future blogs like this one, make sure you sign up for our email updates! You can also follow us on Instagram @reboundwear !