Adaptive Clothing Empathy in Fashion Academy of Design and Management

Adaptive Clothing: Empathy in Fashion

How often do we hear the word “empathy” in the fashion industry? I’m sure it’s not quite often. But have you ever heard of adaptive fashion? What is it? Who is it for? I know it sounds new to most of us, but adaptive clothing has been in the fashion industry for a long; but because it serves the purpose to only a minority of people, it hasn’t been much recognized till now, and that too only with the rise of Inclusive Fashion. So, what exactly is Adaptive fashion? Let’s dive a little deeper into this.

Adaptive clothing was said to have its start back in the late 50’s, starting off with Helen Cookman’s co-authored book called “Functional fashions for the Physically Handicapped” this book included many functional fashion designs for the handicapped, most of them similar to the ones we know today.

Adaptive Clothing Empathy in Fashion Academy of Design and Management

From there adaptive clothing started going mainstream when manufacturers and distributors started designing more functional wear and producing it in the market for consumers. But there was always something that was lacking in these garments, they provided their function but lacked aesthetic sense, and these clothes didn’t evoke a sense of confidence or self-identity in their wearers. Just because they’re differently-abled does not mean they’re not individuals with a personality of their own. We all have our own unique identity that we possess and most of us do express it through the clothes we wear, so the specially challenged should be able to do too. Moving on to the current times, we see adaptive clothing has started to become much more heard of and celebrated among fashion enthusiasts. The rise of inclusive fashion, I can say, led the fashion industry to a much better cause. Even Tommy Hilfiger has its own section for adaptive wear, which first began as a line for kids that was later on expanded for everyone’s use. The collection itself is Tommy’s original designs that are modified to be easily worn by the differently abled.

Adaptive Clothing Empathy in Fashion Academy of Design and Management

Mindy Scheier found Runway of Dreams after struggling to find dressing options for her own differently-abled son.

So basically, Adaptive fashion is just normal clothing that has modifications being done to it to suit the needs of the differently abled. That could be clothing with zippers, magnetic closures, back openings, front closures, etc. On that note, with inclusive fashion and its fast growth rate, hopefully, we see a good future for the rise of adaptive fashion, especially when it comes to the style aspect that these garments have always lacked.

Designers should look into these garments and bring in more chic and innovative pieces for the disabled.

Words By: Fathima Fiza

Batch: Diploma in Fashion Business Management 2022