Bicyclers, wheelchair users, skaters and roller-bladers all propel themselves forward with wheels that turn over and over on an axis. As with other bodily-powered technologies, rolling attachments to the body have undergone numerous changes throughout the centuries. Two different pairs of traditional roller skates offer an interesting comparison: a pair of metal skates from the 1950s that attach to a shoe, and a second contemporary example with lace-up skates with bright pink plastic wheels. The latter are paired with a neon backless jumpsuit by Taylor Fitwear. Another contemporary example is skateboard, a sustainable design by the brand Comit, informed by the research expertise of Professor Anil Netravali who specializes in green composites that are both strong, but also biodegradable. In the FSAD lobby area you’ll find a late 19th century wheelchair, on loan from the Yates County History Center.
Vintage Hustler Speed King Roller Skates
Medium: Heavy metal, leather, composite wheels
CF+TC New Acquisition
Description: This is a pair of vintage Hustler Speed King roller skates. These 1940s roller skates are made of heavy metal and have adjustable leather straps with two metal pieces on the top front to hold the toe box of walking shoes for adjustable sizes. In addition, they have leather straps in the back that go around the ankle, and there would typically be extra leather padding at the back of the ankle, though for this pair, those straps are lost. They have solid metal heel plates and rounded edge footplates with heavy-duty ball bearings and fading blue wheels. They were made by the Hustler Corporation in Sterling Illinois. This line of skates was carried by wholesale, catalog premium houses, hardware, and variety stores, in addition to large chain stores throughout the country including Sears, Macy's, Montgomery Ward, Gimbels, and Marshall Field's.
Taylor Fit Wear MESHED OUT Jumpsuit
Medium: Polyester and Spandex
CF+TC: New acquisition
Credit: Chesley Taylor, The owner of Taylor Fit Wear, Atlanta- GA, webpage: http://www.taylorfitwear.com/
Description: This joyful yellow-green and black jumpsuit was created by the Atlanta, Georgia company Taylor Fit Wear. The front of the garment features two diagonal black mesh panels and the back has a low-cut with two crossed straps. Despite the close fit of the jumpsuit on the body, the designer’s choice to create the garment from a polyester and spandex blend allows for ample stretch while doing physical activities. Although any activity can be done in the company’s garments, there is a strong emphasis on roller skating, which is closely rooted in the identity of the company founder Chesley Taylor. Taylor started the brand in early 2020 after she was sexually assaulted by a white male while serving in the United States Air Force. In total, she served nine years of active duty before ending her military career in late 2020.
Medium: Green composite
On loan from: Dr. Anil Narayan Netravali
Description: Dr. Anil Narayan Netravali, professor of Fiber Science and Apparel Design in Cornell's College of Human Ecology, worked with Comet Skateboards to develop skateboards made of biodegradable composites of plant fiber and a resin derived from soy protein. Instead of slick opaque finishes in bright colors, this skateboard has a transparent top coat that shows the wood core below -- either sustainably harvested maple, poplar, or bamboo. They were very successful in developing the skateboards; however, the cost of sustainable alternatives like Dr. Netravali’s green composite was higher, and Comet could not compete with the cheaper, synthetic, imported varieties. This skateboard was one of the few produced.
Skate Gear Skates
Medium: Faux-leather, wood, metal, plastic
Credit: Christine McDonald
Description: These Skate Gear roller skates are composed of a soft faux-leather high top boot with a wooden heel and sole. The frame for the wheels and bearings is composed of durable plastic and metal supports. These retro-style skates feature bright pink laces, 54x32mm indoor wheels, a rubber front toe-stopper brake. These roller skates are in the personal collection of amateur indoor-skater Christine McDonald. Roller skating technology has evolved greatly since its recorded inception in the mid-eighteenth century, and these particular skates are quad-wheeled, meaning two wheels sit parallel to each other in the front and back, connected by a pivot mount that allows the rider/wearer to make subtle shifts in direction by shifting their weight.
Date: circa 1890
Medium: Wood and lace caning
Credit: Yates County History Center
Description: This late 19th century wheelchair is made entirely of wood with lace caning and was used by a member of the Oliver family in Penn Yann, NY.
Ladies Cycling Bloomers, Breeches and Knickers
Date: c 1895-1900
Image courtesy of Manchester Art Gallery
Description: Practical Bicycles became available in 1817, and then with the development of safety bicycles, riding became popular in the late 19th century. However, the women’s fashion of the day, tight corset, long, and layered skirts, was not accommodating with this kind of transportation. Those skirts were replaced with cycling trousers or “bloomers” consisting of a jacket and waistcoat and gave women the feeling of freedom. However, this style was not socially accepted due to its masculine look, and most women preferred to wear their thick skirts instead.
IZ Adaptive “Seated Rain Coat” & “Wrap Waist Stretch Jean in Wheelchair Cut”
Medium: Denim, velcro, polyester, spandex
Description: Ease of dress and comfort are paramount in creating fashion for both seated customers and people with limited mobility, and Izzy Camilleri's adaptive designs take all of this into account when creating bottoms, tops, accessories, and coats. Between using innovative wrapping strategies, flexible and comfortable materials, and inclusive fashion patterns, IZ Adaptive provides accessible basic and formal garments suited for the seated body. Please find links to the IZ Adaptive commercial website, where you can explore the wide range of fashion varieties available. We are particularly interested in the Seated Rain Coat & the Wrap Waist Stretch Jeans for Wheelchair.