Creating Confidence in the Mainstream Fashion Industry

Written By: Mary Lucas 

A majority of individuals don’t have to put a lot of thought into how they are going to get dressed each day. Yes, these individuals put a lot of thought into styling, but the actual process of getting dressed is as automatic as breathing.

For years, individuals with disabilities have had to work with the clothes that were available because there has been a lack of adaptive clothing in the fashion industry. Individuals with disabilities would have to cut seams & use velcro as an adhesive instead of buttons. As an individual with Cerebral Palsy & Hemiplegia, I understand the struggle of finding clothes that are adaptable while also wanting to fit in.

I’m a stubborn individual and growing up I refused anything & everything that made me stand out & labeled me as ’disabled.’  As I got older and started to embrace my disability, I realized the not only the need for adaptable clothing but the importance of it. Some things that I struggle with personally are: tying my shoes, zippers & buttoning my jeans.

Target and Tommy Hilfiger have been at the forefront, creating lines of adaptive clothing for children & adults. These brands want to bring these options to the mainstream by balancing fashion with function and offering clothes that adapt to the wearer.

Cat & Jack, one of Target’s most popular children’s brands, have developed an adaptive clothing line targeting toddlers sized from 2T to 5T and older kids sized XS to XXL. It is a 40-piece adaptive collection that includes pieces with different adaptable features. The collection is affordable, ranging from $4.50 to $39.99 with a variety of styles to choose from on Target’s Website.

Target also has an adaptive apparel line, Universal Thread, that targets adults. The line, which offers denim with flattened seams and wider legs is affordable with prices ranging from $5 to $39.99.

Tommy Hilfiger partnered with Runway of Dreams in 2016 to launch an adaptive clothing line. It started with children’s adaptable clothing but has since developed a line for adults. Tommy Adaptive is not as accessible when it comes to affordability.  Prices for the Tommy Adaptive range between $29.50 and $139.50

The line features the classic fashion pieces, all that’s changed is the clothes more accessible regarding how you put them on.  

Adaptive apparel is a growing market, and with its breakout into mainstream retailers it can lead to a larger shift toward inclusivity; The individuals who have been underrepresented in the past are getting a greater voice — the big problem with adaptable clothing: cost. There is a market for adaptable clothing, so the need to charge more isn’t necessary especially when individuals with disabilities or their families have medical expenses and adaptative equipment. Adaptive clothing uses different features like velcro closures, magnetic buttons while still having the appearance of typical clothing.

Even though mainstream brands are starting to work on clothing lines that are catered to a broader audience and empower people of all abilities to express themselves through fashion, there is a huge gap in accessibility.  Making adaptable clothing that is easily accessible, whether it’s affordability or broadening your target audience for individuals with disabilities who still can’t wear the line is important.

The only question is: How do we do that?

How adaptive clothing empowers people with disabilities | Mindy Scheier

Tommy Hilfiger's Ground-Breaking Adaptive Clothing Line | Night of Too Many Stars | HBO

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