We have been having the discussion about diversity within the fashion industry in terms of gender, body size and ethnicity, but we haven’t spoken about how fashion accommodates to disabilities. For those who have to deal with disabilities, it is hard to find clothing that can fit but also look fashionable at the same time. So in this article I would like to highlight brands that are making adaptive clothing and are pushing for this change in the industry.
But first, I would like to highlight some statistics to help you understand the topic at hand.
By far, the UK has 14.1 million disabled people in the UK alone which is quite astounding as you would think that the fashion industry would be making fashion lines catered to disable people, but unfortunately that is not the case as the market for adaptive clothing for disabled people is still an untapped marker to reach.
What is adaptive clothing, and why is it important?
Adaptive clothing is clothing designed for people with varying degrees of disability, including congenital disabilities, acquired disabilities and temporary disabilities, as well as physical disabilities.
To put it simply, fashion is for everybody. It shouldn’t matter from whatever background you are from or the disabilities that you have, fashion should and should be for everyone. The fashion industry in recent years has been trying to reach itself into different industries to make itself more diverse, but what is stopping them from celebrating those with disabilities?
Which is why, moving forward, we should help to close the gap between fashion and people with disabilities so that they feel seen and heard. In this article, I will be covering brands that are thinking of disabled people at the forefront.
Braille Code Brands
Founded by Gracie Benedith, a mother of a legally blind child, she saw the struggles that her son had to deal with getting dressed every single morning. So she created a brand where patches with braille can be placed onto the items of clothing to help people who are blind and visually impaired to navigate their clothing.
Her brand consists of braille patches that can be placed inside a pair of shoes, so that anyone who’s visually impaired can easily identify basic directions such as their rights and lefts, and also numerical patches that are all clothing safe.
Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive
The mainstream fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger recently came out with a sub brand that makes adaptive clothing for adults and children with disabilities. The spring features the brand’s signature sporty and preppy style, with modifications such as easy-open necklines, extended zipper pulls, magnetic buttons, wide leg openings, and sliding drawcords.
Those who use wheelchairs have modification such as apparel specifically designed for wheelchair users, which features tops that have expanded back openings and bottoms with low fronts to reduce bunching.
Uncomfortable trouser pockets and seams have also been removed, and dual front plackets have been added for easier access.
Slick Chicks was founded in 2014 by Helya Mohammadian. She created the brand as she saw how debilitating it was for her sister to give birth, so she created a patented adaptive underwear that is designed for people with a disability or physical challenge.
The underwear line comes with side-fasteners to quickly pull on or off as needed with the material being made using nylon, spandex, and cotton, with the fabric being is moisture absorption and antibacterial.
Not only is this brand for those with disabilities, but work with inclusive manufacturing by partnering with MAS Holdings, where hundreds of people with disabilities find safe work no matter the industry.
Care + Wear
Founded in 2014 by Chaitenya Razdan, the health wear brand was set out on challenging the form, function, and fashion in the healthcare and health wear industries. The approach to this line came about from a lot of trial and error when creating their first product, the PICC Line Cover, in 2014. Eventually working with end users, clinicians and designers like, Oscar de la Renta, Lucy Jones and Parsons School of Design to create a line of health wear clothing that would make it easier for clinicians and patients to get in and out of their clothing easily. The line includes chest port access clothing, PICC line covers, recovery bras, wheelchair gloves, NICU bodysuits and much more. Not to mention, the brand donates 10 percent of Care + Wear profits to support non-profits or foundations.
As you can see there are brands that are forward-thinking with putting disabled people in mind when creating clothes that are function but fashionable at the same time. Hopefully we will see more brands take the initiative to think about how their clothes can help people feel more confident in themselves, no matter the disability they face.