Adaptive fashion is clothing that is suitable for people with disabilities and chronic conditions. For the reason that buttons, zippers, laces and materials can pose problems when putting on or removing clothes. As the fashion industry strives to be more inclusive, there has been a drastic rethink in how brands design for disability. Fashionable but comfortable options are becoming widely available, as brands are considering the needs and wants of their disabled consumers. From high-end to newcomers, here are five disability-friendly fashion brands and designers you should know:
1. Tommy Adaptive – Tommy Hilfiger (Worldwide)
Tommy Adaptive created by Tommy Hilfiger is considered a leading brand in the world of adaptive fashion for adults and children. Launched in 2015, it was the first mainstream brand to release such a line, inspiring others to do the same as a result.
In 2019, Hilfiger collaborated with Zendaya to launch a new collection including ten new adaptive styles. Tommy Adaptive is proof that disability-friendly fashion can be so much more than comfortable. The cool, stylish designs show designers are addressing the fact that people with disabilities don’t just want clothes that feel nice, they want pieces that look nice too.
“I learned through having children with special needs how much Tommy Adaptive was needed“. Tommy Hilfiger.
2. Mindy Scheier – Runway of Dreams (USA)
Fashion designer Mindy Scheier founded Runway of Dreams in 2014. The idea began with her son Oliver, who has Muscular Dystrophy. He wanted to wear jeans for school but couldn’t, as he was unable to manage the buttons or zippers. The idea grew with the realisation that millions of people would also be facing the same struggle. A lack of adaptable, fashionable clothing that met their needs.
The foundation is a non-profit that ‘develops, delivers and supports programs and events that celebrate people’s differences’. They give out design scholarships, investing in the future of adaptive fashion. Wardrobe grants are also available to organisations, providing adaptive clothing to those with disabilities. Runway of Dreams is making waves in all aspects of the industry. From design, to the runway, to the future of adaptive fashion. The foundation plays a big part in creating a more inclusive, accepting industry.
3. Kintsugi Clothing (UK)
Kintsugi Clothing joined the adaptive fashion market in 2019. The name Kintsugi comes from the Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer; ‘reflecting the brand’s philosophy that all individualism is beautiful’. The brand was founded by Emma McClelland and is based in Manchester. Kintsugi is all about inclusivity and diversity, they understand that clothing is worn differently from person to person. Their ambition statement outlines their ideals and states ‘We create our clothing so that it can be worn and enjoyed to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of age/size/disability’.
‘Affordability is important for disability – friendly fashion’
4. Able2Wear (UK)
Able2Wear are a UK clothing company specialising in clothes for wheelchair users. The garments range from waterproofs to clothes for everyday and have won awards for their design. They also have a wide range of accessories such as clip-on ties and easy fastening belts. Solving everyday problems faced by people with disabilities.
However, their clothing is on the expensive side as a single pair of jeans prices at £55. Whilst this may reflect manufacturing costs, this can pose a problem for some as not everyone can afford high prices. Affordability is important for disability – friendly fashion, as clothing is a basic human right. Affordability must be considered in the creation of adaptable clothing. Designers should strive to show they are listening to what disabled people need.
5. Nike (Worldwide)
In 2015 Nike launched the FlyEase line, featuring easy-entry trainers. The line was launched as a response to a letter from a teenage boy with cerebral palsy, who struggled with regular trainers. Since then, the FlyEase range has grown to include more styles for adults and children. Latest releases include the FlyEase Nike Air VaporMax and Zoom Pegasus styles. Innovation like this is helping to make shoes more accessible for people with disabilities. Creating an easy-entry shoe and removing difficulties like laces makes an everyday task so much easier.
Steps are being taken to create a more inclusive industry for adaptive fashion. With an increasing number of brands finding solutions for the issues people with disabilities face when it comes to clothes.
For more insight into diversity in the industry, read ‘Five Most Inclusive Fashion Moments of 2020 so far.’