For decades, the multi billion dollar fashion industry has geared its market toward a single type of woman or the “ideal fashionista.” It is time for acceptance of others with unique bodies to be represented in fashion, particularly those with unique body types. Fortunately, the fashion business is noticing that change is both profitable and smart, and appears to be on the verge of breaking free of its old stereotypes and stigmas. The fashion industry should strive for inclusion rather than exclusion, not just driven by profits, but rather by self-esteem expressed through style. Tommy Hilfiger is one of the major brands that has taken the lead of the adaptive fashion movement, as inspired by adaptive designer Mindy Scheier, founder of Runway of Dreams.
What is adaptive fashion? According to Census, over 19 million people in America, or 1 in 5, had some form of a disability, and about 31 million used some form of an enabling device such as a cane or wheelchair. With these statistics, the fashion industry has come to realize the necessity of designing for this market. Everyone deserves to express themselves in the way they want through their unique style. However, their disability may prohibit them from wearing the on-trend fashions for that season. Empowering a person through fashion – and ultimately giving them a positive self image – is crucial to someone who has physical and even intellectual body differences. There must exist functionality – an easy way of getting dressed – and be fashionable. Introducing adaptive options into the industry not only intrigues the world, but it also boosts revenue in a previously untapped segment of the market.
My goal is to immerse myself into the growing industry through the intersection of design and business, thus my current status as a student of Marketing at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. Go Gators! Raising awareness of those with disabilities is a conversation that has begun in design centers in New York and Paris and Milan and China. Why not your home town? The world anxiously awaits models of all shapes, sizes, and colors featured on the runways and in the media to represent them. As a young woman with a disability like myself, my dream is to ignite the world with FASHIONEASETA!!!
photo credit: Pro Infirmis