Photographed by Nico Mendoza of Gaia Herrick and Dylan Clifford
By Alexis Evers
The word fashion is normally used to describe clothing although there is so much more to it. Apparel, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hair, and body posture are all considered fashion. There are so many ways that clothing can be diverse. According to Usha Patel of Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD), Diversity in fashion means bringing in a diverse group of people who share clear distinctions such as age, skin color, race, orientation, and body type. People want to be heard, seen, and, most importantly, represented. Imagine not having the opportunity to reflect who you are in terms of “fashion” simply because of the lack of adaptive clothing. But what is adaptive clothing?
Adaptive clothing are garments designed to allow people to get dressed with more ease, independence, or comfort without sacrificing one’s style. Individuals with disabilities or body differences (out of the norm) may find it challenging to dress independently for a variety of reasons. Without adaptive clothing, it can be hard to find clothing that is not only comfortable but actually something that the individual wants to buy and wear. Adaptive clothing may consist of zippers, magnets, Velcro, and snaps instead of buttons, which may be more difficult to use. Other things to consider with clothing would be: seamless designs, soft fabrics, openings for medical devices, open back designs, side zippers on pants, and so much more.
Society has made it very hard for individuals with disabilities to authentically engage in desired activities because of stereotypes, judgment, a lack of knowledge, and the lack of choices when it comes to fashion. Imagine not being able to express your individuality because you don’t have access to the types of clothing or accessories that fit your accessibility. Fashion idealizes the 'perfect' human form, which has little to nothing to do with diversity and disability.
Although the majority of companies lack accessible clothing, we have moved toward a more adaptive clothing style within the last couple of years. Numerous businesses, including Tommy Hilfiger, have made the decision to address this problem. Tommy Hilfiger is an American luxury clothing company. Their company manufactures apparel, accessories, fragrances, and home products. Billy is a different manufacturer of adaptable apparel. They originally started as a garment manufacturer that only produced adapted attire. With all of Billy's models, adaptable footwear is included. Another company I would like to highlight is JanSport The company, which is best known for its backpacks, bags, accessories, and outdoor equipment, has prioritized being more accessible to people with impairments. The numbers of companies starting to include a more diverse range, that particularly caters to those with disabilities, continues to grow all the time.
The disability community is the only minority group that anyone can join at any time. While reading this, you may be thinking about how this affects you if you are an able-bodied individual. Maybe you might not be aware of how many people in your immediate vicinity are genuinely disabled. According to the CDC one in four (twenty six percent) of people in the United States have a DIAGNOSED disability. Adaptive clothing is beneficial for everyone, whether they have a disability or not. Adaptive clothing can be tailored to suit people of all ages, genders, and abilities. As advancements continue to grow, and as we continue to diversify within different brands, we are sure to see more fashionable options for those with disabilities.