BOSTON (CBS) – When it comes to comfortable clothes, jeans are usually near the top of the list for most people.
At an MIT lab, jeans are getting a scientific makeover so they can be even more comfortable, particularly for people who sit for long stretches.
Maria Kontaridis, an office worker from Newton, said jeans often become uncomfortable when she is at her desk for long stretches of the day. “They bunch up a little bit.”
Elazar Edelman, both a physician and a professor, runs the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center which is where “FYT Jeans” were created.
“Most clothes are fit or designed for us when we are standing, sometimes when we are walking, but you’ve never had anything tailored in a sitting position,” explained Elazer.
Edelman collaborated with designers in Portugal to create jeans with features that can make them more comfortable for people in a chair. For example, there is a long horizontal zipper hidden above the buttocks which can be opened before a person sits down. This means the jeans won’t ride down the person’s back side. “The zipper on the back is a very important and innovative design.”
The waist band has concealed strips of elastic so it conforms to a person’s waist when they are seated. The effect is a little more breathing room.
“They’re a dynamic fit. That means that when you sit, very many of the components of the jeans move with you,” added Elazer.
By some estimates, office workers can sit more than 9 hours a day.
This project started as a way to give wheelchair dependent people clothing options that are safe.
FYT Jeans don’t bunch up behind the knee, for example. Elazer demonstrated how traditional jeans have extra material which forms a lump of extra fabric. “It’s uncomfortable and it can actually be unsafe. It’s everything from a little irritation . . . to when people with diabetes or poor circulation can develop sores that never heal.”
Changing everyday jeans could be just the start of developing clothes and materials that could improve our lives in other ways. “You could certainly embed all kinds of sensors in them, and you could even give something or embed something that was itself therapeutic,” said Elazer.
Right now, office workers like Kontaridis are just intrigued by the idea of a better fit. “Comfort is the most important piece of office attire for me.”