Whilst a lot of progress has been made in recent years to increase diversity and representation in the fashion industry, there are still some areas that need to become more inclusive. Adaptive fashion is one of these.
The recent launch of a seated Barbie Fashionista and the appearance of Aaron Philip, a girl in a wheelchair, in Miley Cyrus’ activist video for Mother’s Daughter shows a growing recognition of this gap in the market. Stephanie Thomas, disability fashion styling expert and founder of the online styling service Cur8able, points out, however, that we still have a long way to go and “today we live in a world where pets have more fashionable clothing options than PEOPLE with disabilities”.
Disability stylists such as Stephanie Thomas create outfit ideas selecting clothing specific to their clients, as well as providing a blog feature on her website to keep clients updated on adaptive fashion news. This is a useful service for people with disabilities, however bringing seated fashion to the attention of the general public wouldn’t be possible without influencers such as Lauren Spencer @itslololove. She raises awareness through her YouTube channel and Instagram about the issues that people in wheelchairs face, which able bodied people just don’t consider. One of these issues is finding fashion that fits.
She highlights the need for adaptive fashion. This is basically a broad term for clothing which has been designed with disabled and elderly people in mind because being sat in a wheelchair requires some adaptions such as no buttons on the back which could dig in to the skin as well as different shaped jeans to make sitting more comfortable. Meanwhile, those with prosthetics can struggle when the openings of clothes are too tight and those with one hand can struggle with buttons and zips.
Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive is one collection which is pushing fashion in new directions. The range began in 2016 and has developed each season based on feedback on the previous pieces. Each item of clothing has different bodies in mind and includes features such as magnetic buttons, Velcro pockets, adjustable hems and easy-to-open necklines. The hope is not only to make things easier for everyday life but also empowering differently abled bodies to express themselves through fashion.
In addition to this, there is new and exciting advances in the beauty industry with GRACE BEAUTY FOR ALL offering safe grip and ring grip extensions for mascara packaging to aid those with dexterity problems in applying make-up independently.
Hopefully in the future with increasingly advanced technology and more customer feedback, adaptive wear will only better and with more interest in inclusive fashion it will become more widely available.
BY: MIRANDA STONER
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