Does Fashion Enable People living with a Disability? Maybe?

Much like other industries, we see fashion expanding everyday. It grows in the scope of ideas, collections, and trends, but what about inclusivity? Fashion in the past and still to this day has tried its best to fit and cater to multiple body types– plus size, petite, etc. There is always still room to grow with Fashion’s idea of unity.

Recently, I was shopping for a cute pair of cargo pants as always struggling to find a size that will fit my tiny waist, and I took a minute to think about how Fashion affects people who live with disabilities. If it is hard for me to find clothing to cater to my body, how difficult is it for those the industry casually forgets.

Those living with disabilities already struggle to achieve their goals due to their disability. Their disability prevents them from the basics that many of us view as an expectation: finding work, clothing, relationships. It is a sad reality, and the fact that they further struggle to find clothing to fit their needs is preposterous. For many, clothing cultivates a good social, personal, and work dynamic.

For PLWD, they face problems finding clothing that remotely fits their situation. A lot of the time, this inability to find correct clothing can affect them in the workplace. Lacking access to proper apparel leads to separation from the group in a workplace, and going to alter certain clothing to fit your needs can be quite expensive.

Personally, I see these gaps in inclusivity as a big opportunity for innovation in the fashion industry. Creating clothing that can adapt to various types of disabilities will allow for the satisfaction for consumers who are willing to pay good money to find suitable clothing. There are a few companies out there actively trying to create clothing that suits PLWD.

The sector of “adaptive design” as it is called in Fashion has been growing, but I think there is still a lot to be tapped into. Brands such as Buck and Buck, Tommy Adaptive, and Target’s adaptive line all show the progress that this sector of the industry has made. You can find some more here. I think what really needs to be focused on is creating more outlets for personal style for those who are disabled. This sort of outlet can be healthy for self-image and allow more engagement (which will lead to innovation) in the industry.

I had never really taken the time to actually think about how Fashion still has bounds to grow with inclusivity not only racial and sexuality based but also still physically.


Kerri McBee-Black

Washington Post Article

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