Lumbar Pants


Rebecca Barnes
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Jonah Stillman and Rebecca Barnes
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We were tasked with creating an everyday piece of clothing and giving it a useful function/functions. The focus of the studio was specifically around improving pants. Our take on this idea was to create a pair of pants that could support your back and help fix your posture when sitting. When we began, we looked at different ways that had already been used to create support for the back. We looked at how back braces were designed, and how that could be worked into a pair of pants.


Iteration 1

We began by trying to emulate an elastic style back-brace that we could possibly implement in the pants design. We used thin bands of elastic and used zip ties to affix them to wooden support rods. We decided to use rods to support our brace because the braces we had used as precedents used plastic rods to provide structure as well. This brace was designed to wrap from the back and join at the front. we did this using velcro to affix the two ends. When we completed it we, we realized the dowels we used for support were too uncomfortable and the elastics were not stretchy enough to provide any real tension. We were at this point also considering a folding mechanism to make the brace retractable.


Iteration 2

To create a more comfortable system, we looked at existing designs that demonstrated lumbar support through straps that would wrap around the knees and back supporting the lower back. We took this idea and created a strapping system using the same material as our back brace. We attached the straps at the knees so when the person is sitting, they can have the support they need instead of a chair-back or a separate lumbar support system. For easy accessibility, we cut holes in the pockets of the pants so that the user can reach in his or her pockets and have their lumbar support. We found that the issues with this design consisted of not enough support in the lumbar area.   


Iteration 3

We continued with our design and sewed the straps to the inside of the pants around the knee area. Due to the needed improvements from our previous iteration, we created another version of our design with an added piece of material in the back that the straps can attach too using velcro, opposed to the previous way of attaching the straps to each other. This gave our design a better sense of support and can help the user feel more comfortable.


Iteration 4

To improve upon our previous design, we looked to creating inflatables. The current design did not provide enough shape for the back when sitting, and with an integrated air pocket, one could theoretically decides how much curvature one needed when sitting down. We practiced crimping pockets using a heat iron and pvc plastic sheeting (shower curtain material) and made different pockets to hold the inflatable we created. We eventually sewed a pocket for the inflatable into our final design. In order to get air in and out of the air pocket, we decided to try to emulate a pump/valve system that could be stored in the user’s pocket. The motion of pumping the air in is theoretically discrete and quick. We sewed a new, finished backing and attached it to the pants.


Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. During this studio we chose to address this issue and create a convenient way for people to support their lower back to help prevent further pain or injury, and is less noticeable and less of a hassle than the traditional back brace.

We designed a pair of pants that have an attached lumbar support system that is easily accessible whenever a person needs it. Consisting of an inflatable system with straps that fasten this support to your back, our design is a more convenient and subtle way to fix a user’s lumbar issues.