The New Kid on The Block: Adaptive Fashion



With the needs of one billion people not being catered to by the fashion industry - change is very much overdue.


When is a niche not a niche? When it's an ignored demographic.


How annoying is it when you need someone to zip up the back of a dress but you live alone? Now scale that inconvenience up to a daily occurrence that affects only a certain group. 10% of the global population and 22% of the UK's population have some sort of disability. Of course, not every disability needs the same adjustments, but in the modern (fast) fashion world where innate functionality is disregarded in the name of style, it's no wonder that adaptive fashion is an underrepresented niche.


Let's explore


Some disabilities are not visible, such as developmental conditions and mental disorders. A shared symptom is sensory overload. This is when the five senses are receiving too much information for someone to process and their nervous system sends them into fight or flight mode when there is no actual danger around, resulting in a suffocating, panicky feeling. For people who have autism, ADHD, anxiety, PTSD and so on, these feelings can be triggered through non-adaptive clothing that is stiff, tight or made to feel itchy. Those qualities can relate to commonly used materials such as denim, leather, suede and many others that some of us may not even think twice about when it comes to wearing it.


Other considerations relate to physical disabilities where clothes need to grow with those who were born with it, suit those who became disabled through an incident or illness and fit those who have a degenerative condition. When physical ability is unaffected, clothing needs to accommodate in other ways, such as padded bras for women who have had mastectomies. In most cases, physical disabilities limit mobility and so issues that need to be overcome can range from chafing from seams for a wheelchair user or fiddly clasps for someone with Parkinson's disease. It is imperative that such fabrics are modified or avoided altogether to ensure everyone has is included and has the access and ability to wear what they choose.


What now?


This may be a perspective that you were not aware of, especially if you're not directly affected by the lack of adaptive fashion. It's a commonality to not be entwined in issues that you don't immediately relate to but it is also crucial to remember that any form of injustice concerns us all.