Is there really any need for adaptive and inclusive clothing?

These are the questions that I get asked most often when I’m talking about what we do here at Hello Yello.

The short answer is that most often people with a disability, medical condition, different need or ability do shop in mainstream fashion stores.

People with a disability, remarkably make up one fifth of our population. Any group of people this large, have a wide variety of needs and wants. Some are well served by the mainstream fashion stores, some are forced to make adaptions to their clothes at home as needed, and others simply make do, often requiring extra support from caregivers to dress.

Mindy Scheier, from Runway of Dreams talks from personal experience about how adaptive clothing can empower people with different abilities or needs and support them to be more independent. Mindy’s son was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and this led her on a path to partnering with Tommy Hilfiger to develop the first mainstream line of adaptive clothing.

We all know that how we dress can affect the way we feel about ourselves.  At Hello Yello, we couldn’t agree more with Mindy Scheier, from Runway of Dreams, who says “Clothing can be transformative. Clothing equals confidence.”

Unfortunately, historically the fashion industry has prioritised function over fashion when designing for people with different abilities or needs.

Cur8able is a fashion lifestyle blog all about dressing with disabilities out loud and in style. Stephanie Thomas the founder of Cur8able talks in this video about a number of myths that are barriers to the development of clothes for people with different abilities or needs:

 MYTH #1 People with disabilities are all the same.

We disagree, because “people with disabilities are people first” who have individual needs and wants.

MYTH #2 Designing for disabilities is too difficult.

If this was true, why do we have niche markets for maternity wear, petite size and stores such as the Big Man Store and so on.  In fact there are more clothing options  for dogs than there are for people with disabilities.

MYTH #3 People with disabilities can’t afford it.

Yet the World Health Organisation (2015) says there are 1.3 billion people living with a disability:

  • The family and friends of people living with a disability totals 2.1 billion
  • 650 million seniors citizen
  • These people have a total disposable income of 8 trillion dollars.

Here in Australia, there are over four million people with some form of disability. That’s one in five of our population.

Estimates indicate that Australians with a disability have a combined disposable income of $54 million per annum.

Yes – that’s disposable income and doesn’t include the disposable income of their family and friends! (Source: Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2015)

MYTH #4 People with disabilities don’t want to go shopping; they have too many other things to focus on.

You only have to check out the following Instagram accounts to see this is simply not true.

#disabled_fashion

#disabledfashion

#disabledandstylish

#wheelchairbarbie

#gutlessandglamorous

@samabullock

@thesineadburke

@lgfbaustralia

@t_to_the_racy

@michelle_roger

@margezze

@itslololove

@cur8able

@chelsiehill

Stephanie is convinced that making clothes for people with different abilities or needs is just good business and Tommy Hilfiger is leading the way in showing the world that this is the case.

If you still need convincing about the difference that adaptive and inclusive clothing can make to the lives of people with different abilities and needs, here are some videos that we’re sure will change your minds…

Sinéad Burke says that she has spent her life trying to convince the world that she is intelligent, articulate, professional and an adult and yet the fashion industry unintentionally or not does the absolute opposite by what it offers her.”

In this video from Starlight Foundation, Canada one young person feels that “If you can’t wear what you want to, you just feel like you’re not who you should be, you’re just your illness or you’re just a hospital patient.”

 

Natalie Balmain from Type One Clothing believes that “Anything that just makes your life just a little bit easier allows you to focus more on looking after yourself”

When Matthew Walzer asked for help in a letter to Nike in 2012 saying that in a couple of years’ time he would be going to college and didn’t want his parents there to tie his shoes for him, the Nike Flyease was created.  Matthew has cerebral palsy and flexibility in only one hand. When Matthew was handed the shoes he that he got this wave of independence that he had never experienced before.

INGA Wellbeing believe that “You are much more than a patient, you are a person and you deserve to feel beautiful, you deserve to feel vulnerable and its fine and you’re gorgeous.”

Hello Yello was inspired by my sister during her final stages of a terminal illness and her search for clothes that were not only practical but that she also like and reflected her sense of style.

We believe that it is time that everyone has the opportunity to present themselves to the world with the ease, dignity and style they deserve.

To Be Yourself !

Much love

Charlotte

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