Stephanie Thomas, an American born turned her lifestyle blog into a company by designing disability-friendly clothing. Stephanie has a disability, contacted iconic designers asking them if they either considered designing fashion for people with disabilities for almost a decade but it fell on deaf ears. Thomas had no intention in starting her own business founder of Cur8able. It is a Disability Fashion Styling System for disabled people who are either wheelchair bound, has prosthetic leg/arm, someone who is Autistic, to name a few. Cur8able clothing is very accessible, smart and fashionable.
It goes without saying that Stephanie was not only tired of trying to finding suitable fashion to fit her disability. She saw a gap in the fashion market that forgot about a group of peculiar people. They love their fashion as well but she felt that they were being left behind globally. Thomas spoke about the unique way in how she went about designing each piece of clothing item to suit the person’s particular needs. Take a wheelchair bound person, she would make their trousers or skirt longer at the back and from with pockets lower down for easy access. Also the pockets will have zips to keep things secure if need be. Even the type of material is taken into consideration.
Taking a Stance
In 2018 Aaron Philip, an Antiguan born, moved to United States with his family when he was three years old. Philip has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Aaron decided at the age of 17 years old that breakdown barriers who how people see people with disabilities. He posted images of himself posing in his wheelchair with a very catchy caption: “Honestly when I get scouted/discovered by a modelling agency it’s over for y’all! By y’all I mean world! It’s real inclusivity/diversity hours folks, get into it.” The tweets when viral gaining over 89,000 likes and 23,000 retweets. In fact it went so well he became a renowned model and starred in photoshoots with Paper magazines and online retailers ASOS.
Philip said it started because there was a controversial Interview cover of Kylie Jenner in 2015 where she was posing in a wheelchair. The magazine and Jenner were accused of using disability as statement over pictures. Why did the magazine not use a disabled person for the shoot? Is it because Kylie Jenner would make them a fortune? Do they discriminate or support people with disabilities? These are a few questions to ponder on.
Fashion for people with disabilities and chronic condition has definitely saw an 80% increase in 2019 according to the global fashion search platform List. Amazing to see that they are moving with adaptive clothing that has discreet elasticated waistbands and magnetic fasteners for independent dressing. It is sometimes taken for granted how dressing yourself somewhat not much effort for a “normal” person. However, in saying that a person who has one arm or one leg needs assistance in dressed for the day and may they lost a sense of independence/dignity.
Tommy Hilfiger was the first mainstream brand to launch an adaptive fashion line. It was called X Zendaya collection feature 10 adaptive styles. They included 70 style metallic gold turtleneck with hidden zippers and hound's-tooth blazer featuring magnetic closures. There are many more brands that took a leaf out of Hilfiger book and follow suit to design clothes for the disabled. Many major departments stores in the United Kingdom have wheelchair accessible stores, fitting rooms and toilets to accommodate people living with disabilities. Let’s hope that they continue to improve and learn more in years to come and not resort to the past.