It’s Time to Rock the Runway!
While efforts to design for those with disabilities have grown, the adaptive apparel market remains widely untapped.
It makes perfect FASHION sense, after all, when you consider that the disabled population is one of the biggest markets in the world.
With over $13 trillion in purchasing power, this population is bigger than the population of China.
By 2026, it’s estimated that that number will be $400 trillion and still growing!
You are probably thinking “Did I hear that right?”
Back in 1997, as a fashion editor and associate publisher at WE magazine (the first lifestyle magazine for the disabled community), I was ready to bring out the very best from athletic wear to couture. It’s important that the mainstream is learning to see that just because we may have a disability does not mean we can’t be one with style.
It’s time to roll out the red carpet.
Adaptive Clothing is Overdue in Stores, Especially Boutiques!
Tommy Hilfiger, one of the few leading designers has recognized this need and created magnetic buttons – stylish on the outside with a magnet on the inside to make dressing easier for some. One of many designs he has in his adaptive wear collection.
Companies like Gamut Management have recognized and revolutionized the need not only for accessible clothing but also for a process to help consumers identify brands that are vetted and create authentically Adaptive products. Started in 2019, their GAMUT Seal is a mark to show that the company has met a stringent set of requirements and that they are meeting the needs in the disability space, as decided by experts.
It’s time for designers to take fashion forward and ditch the ableist mindset that people with disabilities are somehow “less than” or “not worthy” of stylish clothing.
Second, they need to start actually designing clothing that is accessible and usable for people with a wide range of disabilities. And finally, they need to be vocal about their commitment to inclusivity.
Let’s continue to bridge the gap of the fashion industry with people with disabilities for ALL seasons. Let’s lead with role models who are championing globally with access, authenticity and style on our runways.