Fashion + Disability - How Can The Fashion Industry Further Understand Disabled Individuals?



Disability can come in an abundance of forms and can result in the need for specific clothing adjustments due to perfect the fit and size for the given individual. In order for matters as such to be recognised and dealt with, it can require brands and retailers of this generation to be able to become more aware of the different needs and wants of the disabled community. Understanding the numerous challenges that are faced on a daily basis means there can be a more sudden impact for meaningful change.


Furthermore, connecting and bonding with disabled individuals can also outcome in gaining an understanding of how they feel currently towards the fashion industry, and whether they are being equally treated with the same benefits. An idea that could be lead forward is the introduction of allowing disabled students to come up with suggestions for larger companies on how they can make certain products more usable for those with limitations of the original clothing piece.


The importance to contribute this technique into education among pupils can be life changing for disabled individuals, and the affect it can have brands to be pushed to implement these changes to increase the variety they provide for their consumers. Another topic of relation is the potential of making more of a visibility of disability within branding, as catering to this with customers and including them in the planning stages could help predict the launch stages and whether this will adapt well into the lifestyle of those that are disabled.


With various companies that deliver catwalks with models from numerous backgrounds, to this day it is rarely seen when models with disabilities are able to participate in these events, leaving the impression that they are not fit to fulfil the role of representing forms of clothing alongside designer brands. Many individuals with disabilities may have formed such restrictive physical issues through uncontrollable matters such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, workplace accidents.... and to imagine living up to a certain age where society has treated you normally and suddenly everyday lifestyle moments can be a struggle. Companies that provide clothing for fashionable purposes must observe whether the small consumer community (for this case disabled individuals) are able to purchase without making self alterations and can feel normal when investing into their brand. However, some companies are becoming more aware of this issue, as the example of Tommy Hilfiger now providing with a range whereby simple clothing were more usable for those with limitations to daily scenarios. A few examples is the introduction of one hand usage of magnetic buttons, Velcro straps, quarter zip jackets.... as this gave an easier approach to being able to present a fashionable appearance without feeling left out.


Fashion outlets/stores to its surprise don't always have changing rooms made specially for disabled customers, as when individuals of such needs may want to independently shop alone, it can be hindered when the presence of a carer is needed and can often be embarrassing. To solve this issue, and understand the personal situation being experienced by disabled customers, more of an understanding needs to be implemented by those in the fashion industry and maybe create more of a suitable environment for those with a disability to be comfortable.


Customers with disabilities such as dwarfism have expressed how they feel embarrassed and unfortunate when shopping in the children's department due to often realising that clothing items may be correct in height, however due to having in the broadness and muscle/fat density of an adult, items can result in being too tight. Furthermore, payments for tailoring has to be done an be extortionate in price. This seems unfair and can consequence in disabled individuals feeling left out due to paying more than a person with minimal faults (physically). Companies should spot this gap in the market, and provide a range of fashionable items but at a smaller degree to see how the demand impacts them as a business. It could also lead to higher profits as ell as being more socially aware of the different customers they currently have and could potentially list them as potential consumers.