Adaptive Fashion: Making the Industry More Inclusive + 6 Amazing Adaptable Fashion Brands (in 2022)
The fashion bubble has slowly but surely grown to be a more inclusive and diverse space. Yet, this effort for inclusion seems to fall flat when it comes to people with disabilities.
Over the past decade or so, the market for adaptive clothing has grown to become more established. From massive retailers like the Target adaptive clothing line and Tommy Adaptive to independent brands that solely focus on crafting special needs clothing.
Despite the growth in the adaptable clothing market, many consumers and designers today still don’t know:
- What adaptive fashion is
- Why it's so important
- How it will impact the fashion industry as a whole
- And where to find adaptive clothing
Let’s answer a few of those big questions here.
What is Adaptable Fashion?
Adaptive fashion is clothing designed for people with a disability. Adaptable clothing helps people who struggle with a range of different ailments, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, brain injuries, and much more.
There is a wide range of different adaptable clothing features, such as:
- Magnetic Closures
- Soft and Tagless Clothing for Sensory Issues
- Lace-Free Footwear
- Open Back Shirts/Pants
- Medical Equipment-Friendly Outfits
- Clothing Tailored for Wheel-chair users
The process of designing adaptable clothing factors in types of disabilities, mobility, and any other unique requirements the wearer might have.
Adaptive fashion is a crucial sector that’s, unfortunately, been neglected in the industry for many years. However, it seems as though the tide is turning, and the fashion sphere is becoming more inclusive of people with disabilities.
4 Ways the Fashion Industry Can Embrace Inclusivity
In the ever-evolving future of fashion, there are several ways that the industry can be more inclusive.
- Providing Styles for Everyone
Providing styles for everyone is the most glaringly obvious way the fashion industry can be more inclusive. People with disabilities want the chance to express themselves through the medium of fashion too. But, that’s been difficult without a comprehensive, adaptive market.
Recently, the realm of adaptive clothing has grown tenfold. There are thousands of adaptive styles and specialized brands to explore. Plus, plenty of established brands now offer adaptive apparel lines.
It’s a huge step towards making the future of fashion inclusive for everyone.
- Hiring Models and Designers With Disabilities
With more adaptive clothes on the shelves, it's time to focus behind the scenes by hiring models and designers with disabilities. The consumers of adaptive fashion want to see other people like them being represented by their clothing brand.
They want their clothes made by people who genuinely understand their needs. Who understand the seemingly small features that can impact their lives for the better. People with disabilities need to be provided for as consumers and brought into the fashion world as creators too.
- Open the Conversation About Adaptive Fashion
The fashion industry manages to be astonishingly innovative and set in its ways simultaneously. That's why another aspect of making the industry inclusive is addressing the conversation about adaptive fashion.
Discuss where the industry has gone wrong, improvements that can be made, and how to make the conversation a reality. After all, great changes in anything start with open dialogue.
- Showcase Adaptive Brands in the Mainstream Industry
Finally, adaptive brands should be integrated into the mainstream media.
There are over 61 million adults in America with disabilities. Enough to be including adaptive fashion in major industry productions, like fashion week.
6 Adaptable Fashion Brands Making the Industry More Inclusive
- Abilitee Adaptive Wear – Best for Medical Device Accessories
Ablitee creates adaptive clothing and accessories with style for chronically ill and disabled people. Their pieces find the balance between being fashionable and functional at the same time.
The thing that makes Abilitee stand out is how much they include the community they'll be serving in their design. They offer fashion that's essential in their daily lives.
- Seven7 Adaptive – Best for Denim
Everyone loves a reliable pair of jeans. But, the traditional style can be very limiting for people with disabilities.
Seven7 is one of the most prominent players changing the game in adaptable jeans. The brand has been perfecting the art of the perfect jean for over 60 years.
Adaptable jeans from Seven7 are designed with Velcro or magnetic fastening features, elastic waistbands, and other useful features. These types of things make it a more livable wear for people with a range of disabilities. They have several styles available for men and women that range in price from $50-$75.
- Zappos Adaptive – Best For Shoes
Zappos is already a major retailer in America that's mainly known for its shoes. The company took a big step toward fashion inclusivity when it launched its adaptive line in 2017. It's one of the largest adaptable shoe shopping platforms available today. Featuring many brands that are geared toward a range of needs.
On Zappos Adaptive, you'll find:
- Easy on/off shoes
- AFO-brace friendly shoes
- Single shoes
- Wide shoes
- Orthotic-friendly shoes
Zappos Adaptive also carries adaptive accessories, medical wear, and adaptable intimates, making it a comprehensive source for men's, women's, and children's adaptable clothing.
- IZ Adaptive – Best for Wheelchair Users
IZ Adaptive is an incredible brand that carries everything from jackets and jeggings to shoes and suits for people that use a wheelchair. Their extensive inventory is designed to be comfortable and functional from a seated position.
Of course, even with adaptable fashion, it's difficult to know if clothes ordered online will be the right fit. That's why IZ offers a 30-day risk-free guarantee. Customers who aren't totally satisfied can get a full refund (minus shipping costs).
- Slick Chicks – Best for Undergarments
Underwear is such a strangely key piece of life. An uncomfortable pair can sour even the best of days. Double that struggle for people with disabilities or physical limitations. Slick Chicks has come to fill this gap in the fashion market with its adaptable undergarments.
Their goal is to empower people to feel independent and confident Their style is practical minimalism at its best. While their primary products are bras and panties, Slick Chicks also carries a variety of loungewear in different colors.
- Lucky & Me – Best for Kids With Sensory Issues
Parents of children with sensory issues always look for ways to make their kids' lives a little cozier. Lucky & Me's creator, Rochelle Perera, resonated with that impulse. So, she started a clothing brand for kids that put comfort and quality above all else.
Lucky & Me has all sensory-friendly types of clothes for boys and girls from the infant stage to the tween years. Not only are their products ethically made from high-end materials to make the softest clothes possible. But they're also absolutely adorable on top of their functionality.
FAQs About Adaptable Fashion
Why is adaptive fashion important?
Adaptive fashion is important because millions of Americans with disabilities need clothes that fit their needs. Many people don't think twice about changing their clothes every day. But for others, it's a huge deal. People with disabilities deserve to wear clothes that make them feel confident, secure, and comfortable.
Adaptive fashion is a pivotal piece of making the fashion industry truly inclusive.
How does adaptive clothing help people with disabilities?
Adaptive clothing helps people with disabilities in many different ways. It all depends on their circumstances.
Magnetic closures assist people with mobility issues get dressed easier. Specially-tailored pants allow wheelchair users to be comfortable all day from a seated position. Soft, sensory-friendly shirts reduce anxiety in kids with sensitive skin.
In addition to helping people with disabilities functionally, adaptive clothing also lets them express themselves with fashion. It’s something that everyone should have the freedom to do.
What clothing brands have got on board with adaptive clothing?
There are quite a few large, long-standing brands that that support the adaptive clothing market.
Some of these brands include:
- Target Adaptive Clothing
- Tommy Adaptive
- American Eagle
- UGGs Universal Collection
- Kohl’s Adaptive Clothing
The list goes on. As the market grows, more name-brand companies enter the adaptive clothing space.
How big is the adaptive clothing market?
The growing global adaptive clothing market was valued at approximately $334.5 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $400 billion by 2025.
- Forbes. The Fight For Adaptive Fashion: How People With Disabilities Struggle To Be Seen. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- Vogue. Fashion’s Inclusivity Movement Is Missing Adaptive Fashion for Disabled People. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- The New York Times. Functional Fashion, People With Disabilities and Love of Clothing. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- 3D Look - What can fashion businesses do to be more inclusive and diverse?. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- Who What Wear. Adaptive Clothing Is the Future, and These 3 Leaders Are Changing the Game. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- The Good Trade. 7 Brands Making Adaptive Clothing For Disabled People. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- Good Housekeeping. 11 Best Adaptive Clothing Brands for People with Disabilities. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- The Vou. 17 Best Adaptive Clothing Brands & Online Stores For All Needs (In 2022). Accessed on August 9, 2022
- Vogue. Adaptive Fashion Is in the Spotlight at Runway of Dreams in Los Angeles. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- The Guardian. Fashion industry is letting down people with disabilities – to its cost. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- Vogue Business. The $400 billion adaptive clothing opportunity. Accessed on August 9, 2022
- Coherent Marketing Insights. Adaptive Clothing Market Analysis. Accessed on August 9, 2022