Disability and fashion
Disabilities are common in society. According to the Disabled Living Foundation, around 13.3 million people in the UK are living with a disability. Of course, there are many different types of disabilities, each bringing its own set of challenges for people to face. One such challenge is finding accessible fashion. In other words, finding clothes that are both practical and fashionable. This challenge may be even greater for those with physical disabilities. It may even be something that most people don’t consider when thinking about people with disabilities. Nevertheless, it is a big issue for many people.
When it comes to fashion, the problems faced by those with disabilities are varied. Some people need clothes with adjustments to the size or fit and some people need alternative fastening options to make it easier to get their clothes on. However, these issues have long been ignored by the fashion industry. Many brands don’t really cater to people with disabilities, instead focusing their efforts on making clothes for those who are considered ‘able-bodied’. This leaves fewer options for people who have a disability.
There are some exceptions to this. One example is Kintsugi. They are an inclusive fashion brand that take suggestions from the disabled community to make clothing that is accessible and practical for people with a range of disabilities. They also aim to make clothing that is stylish, something that a lot of accessible clothing brands don’t necessarily do. Elba is another example of an inclusive fashion brand. They specialise in lingerie that is functional, which can go a long way towards making people with disabilities feel more comfortable and stylish.
What can be done?
So, what can other fashion brands do to be more accessible to those with disabilities? How can they change what they are doing to become more inclusive? It turns out it isn’t actually too difficult to be more accessible to people with disabilities. Offering a wider range of options would be a start. To ensure that anyone can wear the clothes that they sell, fashion brands could create clothes that have adjusted fits or alternative fastenings. Simple things such as these can be incredibly helpful for people who can’t comfortably wear clothes that you would usually find on the rack.
For far too long the disabled community has been forgotten when it comes to designing clothes, and it shows. In offering these alternative clothing options, fashion brands would also be making people with disabilities feel more included. Not only would they feel better in everyday life because of the more accessible designs, they would also feel seen. They would know that fashion designers are actually thinking of their needs when designing their clothes. They would know that these designers understand the diversity of their customers.
The impact of accessible fashion
Everybody likes to feel stylish. It can improve confidence and make people feel happier in themselves. Although there are some accessible fashion brands that strive to balance style with practicality, there is often a compromise for people with disabilities when it comes to clothes. If an item of clothing is adjustable or otherwise accessible it can often look pretty unfashionable. This means that those with disabilities often have to give up looking stylish in favour of actually being able to comfortably wear clothes. It also means giving up the benefits of feeling fashionable.
Nobody can deny that there are many benefits of having access to stylish and practical clothes for those with disabilities. With this being the case, why has the disabled community been ignored for so long by fashion brands? It makes no sense that an entire group of people are continuously left out of something that is so important in our everyday lives. It is important for self expression, for confidence, and for people to feel like they are reflecting who they are to the world. As such, it’s really quite shocking that so many people are excluded from fashion.
In 2020 it is simply not good enough for brands to fail people with different needs. Nobody should have to compromise their style or comfort just because they have a disability. This is why accessible clothing that is actually fashionable is so important, and why companies must step up and provide in this area. Making their clothing lines more inclusive should be a priority for fashion brands that have left people with disabilities behind for so many years.