Fashion + Disability

Fashion & the Ceaseless Abandonment of Disability

It may come as a surprise to some, but fashion and disability possess an overall similarity to one another. They both consist of a definition which in short summarises the topic on a whole and both terms contain a variety of unique characteristics and aspects which contribute to the meaning. For instance, fashion relates to clothing, designing, runways, make-up and so much more. Simultaneously, disability includes aspects of intellect, vision, physicality and many more. So with both subjects representing diverse, distinctive notions and understanding the complexity each specific aspect holds; why is it apparent that one subject refuses to acknowledge the other? 

Why is the fashion industry ceaselessly abandoning and refusing to recognise disability?

The consequences of under representation

Fashion is a catalyst in representing oneself creatively to the outside world. Its means is to demonstrate uniqueness and diversity of all beings, but is ultimately failing those with disabilities. The difficulty for disabled people to find garments that fit their bodies as well as finding stores which cater to their needs such as changing rooms that fit wheelchairs and lifts is appalling. The extent these beings have to go to in ensuring clothing fits and shopping trips are efficient, situations we naturally take for granted, is actually really exasperating. It makes it even harder to comprehend based on the masses of innovation the industry already consists of, that this still exists.

Which is why change is vital.

Fluently throughout the years, disabled beings have been abandoned. From the lack of access to high-end brands, to the lack of visual display across multiple channels. As a result, the mental state of these beings is largely and negatively governed which fundamentally is cruel. This additionally enhances the need for change and the key to embed and ensure this change is influential, is education.

“The industry needs educating – fast”

Monique Jarrett

As a being who society would consider rather ‘normal’, I will never truly understand the implications of being underrepresented. But what I can do is educate myself enough to try and understand the position of those not considered ‘normal’, in order to aid in the actions of recognising disability in fashion. With that being said, the existing pressure to meet the expectations of the fashion industry is still extensive for beings who fall into the category of ‘normal’. So imagine what it feels like to be a being who does not in the slightest resemble the current ‘norm’. It is heartbreaking.

The beauty of disability

Fashion still has a long avocation in providing an industry that symbolises all classifications of beings and beauty. As an industry whose means is to represent diversity and inclusion, it is within their duty to be a patron in abolishing societies current illogical ideologies of fashion.

“I don’t want to be defined by my wheelchair and fashion helps people see me first”

Monique Jarrett

A designer who blissfully and professionally executes the incorporation of disability is Tommy Hilfiger with ‘Tommy Adaptive Clothing Collection’; which includes magnetic buttons, adjustable Velcro hemlines and one handed zips. The vehement positive response this collection received was incredible, with numerous people expressing how revitalising it was to see disability being represented in fashion. A simple creation that evoked a triumph of positive impact for the disabled community.

From a business perspective, adaptive fashion withholds volumes of success in terms of reputation as well as profit. Approximately 1 in 5 people with in Wales and England are disabled, which is a market worth of £249 billion. According to the World Bank Group 15% of the worlds population experience some form of disability which is a spending power of £1.2 trillion. Additionally taking into consideration the families, parents and careers of disabled beings, the Return on Disability Group predicts this figure to soar to £6.9 trillion. So essentially the inclusion of adaptive fashion will not only add to the movement of true fashion diversity but too bring masses of success.

Overall, disability is beautiful because it is unique and represents new dimensions of diversity. The beauty of disability is the courage and confidence that encourages others to not follow the beliefs of society. To be their own belief and to represent their own image.

Fashion is for everyone

To be beautiful is to be yourself. So why does the fashion industry ceaselessly abandon disability? Why is it oppressing self-expression of beings with disabilities?

“I won’t wear a prosthetic arm because I know it is only there so I can look ‘normal’ to others.

Kelly Knox

Now more than ever society requires change for the long awaited insertion of fashion and its true means. It has also been identified that the primary activists of the change for adaptive fashion are disabled. Therefore I ask you, the reader to be a force within the movement of creating an industry which fulfils the accurate symbol of fashion. Moreover, assisting in deconstructing the perception of ‘normal’ and generating a sincere, precise conception that can relate to all beings.

Stop abandoning disability. Recognise it.

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