You look incredible, now show it off with these adaptive fashion ideas
Adaptive fashion is coming into vogue, with all the trappings, glamor and foibles that typically abled influencers get to play in. Today is Fashion Revolution Day, and we can’t think of a greater pioneer story than of those who make stylish clothing for mobility scooter and power wheelchair users.
Startup clothing brands, fledgeling fashion houses, and even some standard bearers (Tommy Hilfiger, anyone?) are quickly carving out their own pocket in the industry. Differently abled models enjoy thousands of social followers just like typically-abled influencers do.
Earlier this year, The New York Times wrote that adaptive clothing is on its way to becoming a nearly $400 billion industry by 2026.
What is adaptive fashion?
In short, adaptive fashion includes well-designed clothing that accounts for the fact that we’re not all shaped, or move, the same way.
At Pride Mobility, we take incredible strides to deliver comfort. Many of our models include Comfort-Trac Suspension, which gives you the ultimate ride over varied terrains. Seat cushions, armrests and other more subtle features make the journey smooth.
Our best designs, however, mean very little when your trousers pinch and bunch up in your lap, your lower back is left exposed and you have a strong personal aversion to sweatpants every day.
Most designers make clothing for the standing figure. But our bodies take a different form when seated. For those of us who spend our days aboard a mobility scooter, we want the waistband in the front to be lower, and higher in the back. Some softer material in front at the hips wouldn’t hurt either.
A handful of terrific companies make sharp looking, adaptive clothing for people with missing or deformed limbs. They produce easy-access undergarments and formalwear that may be donned and doffed easily for people who don’t have full range of motion.
Who are the adaptive fashion influencers?
About 15% of all people in the world have a disability. So you’d be safe to assume that 15% of influencers also have one or more, right? Unfortunately, influencers with disabilities remain on the margins. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any at all.
- Alyssa Higgins, @life.in.the.real.world, uses a power chair and by all accounts lives an utterly glamorous life in New York City. More than 70,000 people follow her Instagram page.
- Jourdie Godley, a fashion consultant who uses a wheelchair, has a few thousand following his Instagram account. His content focuses on his industry work, and includes mostly images of typically abled models and clothing designs to suit. That said, he doesn’t hide his wheelchair use either. It’s a beautiful example of how social leaders normalize the use of mobility devices. It’s a celebration of our differences, which make all of us stronger.
- Paula Carozzo uses a cane to help her walk. She has cerebral palsy, though except for the cane she often poses with in her Instagram photos, you’d never know she has mobility issues from her photos. She has more than 11,000 followers and, among the sponsored posts she gets paid to make, also talks about adaptive technology that helps her to live a full life.
Adaptive, but not exactly accessible
It’s still a niche market, one that modern technology and pricing structures still struggle to reckon with. That New York Times story mentioned earlier exposes how Facebook ad filters rejected images for adaptive fashion because they had incorrectly labeled them as medical devices.
The clothing is also expensive.
IZ Adaptive Clothing, while an inspiring story, wants $165 for a pair of jeans. I Am Denim London, while slightly more accessible, wants about $90 for jeans with an elastic belly band that better conforms to a seated wearer. No revolution happens without at least some friction. But, thanks to social media and more people in the world demanding inclusion and parity for people of all shapes and abilities, we’re clearly headed in the right direction.