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Adaptive Clothing

Inclusion can be defined athe practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.

As we start being inclusive in all spheres and social practices, it becomes extremely crucial to keep the needs of everyone in mind, while designing clothes. Despite this staggering figure of people who have varying degrees of disabilities, mainstream fashion has historically been slow to address the needs of differently-abled people.

Traditional Clothes such as 

  • Buttons and zippers are problematic for those with limited dexterity. 
  • Pants and jeans are ill-fitting for people who use wheelchairs and those who wear leg braces. 
  • Shoelaces are troublesome for those who have difficulty in balance and coordination and much more. 

This is where the concept of Adaptive Clothing comes in. Adaptive clothes are clothes specifically designed to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities. This helps individuals stop worrying about basic tasks like tying a shoelace or dressing up with ease. Adaptive clothing not only eases an individual’s day to day life but helps them do so while following the latest fashion trends.

How does adaptive clothing work?

Adaptive clothing or adaptive clothes are designed keeping in mind  the needs and abilities of people with disabilities including congenital disabilities, acquired disabilities, temporary disabilities, as well as physical disabilities.

Factors Influencing Adaptive Clothing

  •  Age
  • disability type(s)
  •  level of independence
  • Mobility
  •  dexterity

Such pieces of clothing have zippers, velcro, elastic and magnets instead of buttons, button holes, tie-ups, knots or shoe laces. Some examples of inclusive clothing are:

  • Shirt buttons replaced with magnetic buttons.
  • Tracksuits with elastic for easy fit instead of tie-up based clothing.
  • Pants & undergarments with velcro.

Brands that offer adaptive clothing

Target has started making super soft clothing for individuals with sensory processing difficulties. Mumbai based Saakshi Mahnot designed a Deep compression T-shirt for individuals with Autism that not only calms and comforts the wearer but also helps them balance their movement.

Van Heusen had announced the launch of the Van Heusen men’s dress shirt designed with MagnaClickTMadaptive technology from MagnaReady LLC that does not use traditional buttons.For individuals suffering from Parkinson’s and other disabilities that affect motor skills like dexterity, magnetic closures have emerged as a great solution across multiple garments.

Target & Tommy Hilfiger have a whole line of adaptive clothing targeted towards individuals with disabilities. IZ & Zappo Adaptive makes adaptive clothes specially for individuals who need wheelchairs, while providing top notch fashion trends. Nike has a dedicated shoe range called Nike FlyEase to promote the concept of inclusion. 

Indian Brands that offer inclusive clothing

Designers across the country are experimenting with inclusive designs with an aim to inspire independence and confidence ~The Hindu

Brands like Aaram Se & Wrap It Up provide traditional clothes like Kurtas & Sarees in an adaptive & easy to wear form.

Parul Sachdeva is a designer who makes clothing with braille tags, so individuals with visual impairments know what colored clothes they’re wearing.

Move Ability, a Kottayam based brand has been making clothes for individuals with disabilities since 2015.

In February Nike Launched the Nike Go FlyeEase. The main idea behind the shoe is to make the entire wearing experience “handsfree” and to be an “intuitive” wear. A simple design but one that gives an individual with disability the freedom to put on their shoes independently.

The Future

With an estimated 1.3 billion individuals with disabilities, the adaptive clothing market is big. As individual designers and brands make more adaptive clothing the market is projected to grow up to $400 Billion by 2026. Which not only means more inclusive clothing but also an inclusive society.