The fashion industry is becoming increasingly inclusive. So far, that has meant opening catwalks and collections to underrepresented groups and those who don’t fit into societal norms or fashion model standards.
And today, this long-awaited and much-needed inclusivity is extending its reach to include the differently abled (disabled). While it is still an underserved market, this niche segment – also known as the adaptive clothing market – is expected to be valued at nearly $400 billion by 2026.
And we’re not talking about clothing created solely to be functional. We’re talking about fashionable clothing that makes the wearer look and feel good.
“Brands that ignore the ‘disability dollar’ do so at their own risk,” said Carol Taylor, an Australian artist and burgeoning fashion designer, who also happens to be a quadriplegic. “At the end of the day I am still a woman armed with a credit card that wants to go shopping buy glamorous things and look and feel beautiful.”
Brands such as Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Target, Asos, LandsEnd, Marks&Spencer, Zappos, Nike, Billy Footwear, smaller niche brands like Rebirth Garments and Kintsugi Clothing have moved into the market in recent years, with Hilfiger making its adaptive debut in 2016 with a collection that featured jeans designed to allow for prostheses, dresses with Velcro fasteners instead of small buttons, and jackets and trousers for wheelchair users, sadly not avalable in Europe but maybe possible through Zappo´s.
And more internationally reputed designers are getting onboard, with Christian Siriano planning an adaptive line in the near future. And Taylor herself is setting her sights on creating her own adaptive clothing fashion line in the near future.
Taking her vibrant art and applying it to uniquely adapted apparel, to create fashion forward pieces that work for those with disabilities of all kinds. Watch this space!