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Adaptive clothing: empowering people living with disabilities

  • 2 mins

When able-bodied individuals get dressed every day, it isn’t likely they are thinking too much about how they will get dressed.

For those individuals who live with a disability, dressing themselves every day can be a significant challenge and this is where adaptive clothing comes in.

Adaptive clothing allows those who struggle with tasks such as pulling on jeans, buttoning up a shirt and other similar dressing tasks, to take the complication out of it, whilst still making them look and feel as cool and stylish as their peers.

Last year an article came out, written by Sayeed Mehrjerdian for IAccess about adaptive clothing and the impact it makes on the lives of those living with a disability.

Sayeed described adaptive clothing as: “apparel that is specifically designed to make dressing easier for individuals with special needs including physical disabilities, spinal cord injuries, and learning disabilities.”

In recent years, more and more brands have made a conscious decision to be much more disability-friendly and create adaptive clothing for those consumers that struggle with getting dressed independently every day.

Big brands such as Tommy Hilfiger has been one of those who have embraced this need, with the creation of Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, as well as Nike and smaller brands like Billy Footwear and Zappos Adaptive.

Inclusivity and representation in the fashion industry is incredibly important for so many individuals. Being able buy items of clothing and accessories that are adaptable is so impactful for someone who lives with a disability; to see themselves represented in such a positive way in clothing shops and on ads on television.

Someone who had a personal connection and the drive to create an inclusive fashion brand was Mindy Scheirer. Her son was born with Muscular Dystrophy and as he grew up, it became more apparent to Mindy that the fashion industry, and retail in general, wasn’t catering to the disability community.

So she created ‘Runway of Dreams’ to push for more clothing to be available to those living with a disability. Fashion that could be modified to fit them, their functionality, lifestyle and personal style.

The reason Mindy pushed to create ‘Runway of Dreams’ was to help empower people living with a disability to dress not just easily, but to feel like they looked good when they got dressed every day and to help give them an identity outside of their disability.

Mindy discussed this is a TEDtalk in 2018.

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