Fashion knows no boundaries

Being a small Asian girl, I often have difficulties shopping for clothes and shoes in Europe. I have to spend much time to run through different shops or even visit the kids section to finally find something which fits me. (Thank goodness nowadays kids’ fashion is rather mature!) Moving to Europe, I’m suddenly categorized into the non-mainstream and I am annoyed by it. If I am annoyed with my limited fashion choice just because I’m small, then how about people with more special needs in their clothing?

In November, we introduced a range of adaptive clothing companies. These companies surely offer easier dressing solutions for people in need but are they the best solutions? Why are there barely any mainstream fashion companies/brands offering adaptive clothing collection for differently abled people? Wouldn’t it be great if they can buy from mainstream fashion companies like everyone else but not excluded from the mainstream, which has already happened to them in many other ways?

Disappointedly this concern seems to be neglected often by many mainstream retailers and fashion brands. Until recently: three major retailers including the iconic fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger finally have introduced adaptive clothing collections for people with special needs.

Introducing adaptive clothing for kids in mainstream fashion industry (photo source: Runway of Dreams’ Instagram).

Knowing that dressing children isn’t easy and dressing children with special needs is even more challenging, both retailers Mark & Spencer and Target have started selling adaptive clothes for children with special needs in the last two years. Their adaptive collections offer easy dressing features such as hidden panel of Velcro (hook-and-loop fasteners), conveniently placed poppers and hidden opening for abdominal access.

In 2016, Tommy Hilfiger also launched its first line of adaptive clothing for kids in collaboration with Runway of Dreams. In fact, there’s a touching story behind the establishment of Runway of Dreams. The American-based nonprofit organization was founded by Mindy Scheier, a fashion designer and mother of a child with a degenerative neuromuscular disease. Her son’s challenges with fashion motivated her to create an organization to work with the fashion industry in order to adapt mainstream clothing lines for differently abled people. Recently Mindy has presented a TED talk to share her views on adaptive clothing. You can watch her moving talk here.

Let’s get back to the first adaptive clothing collection from Tommy Hilfiger. It has 22 pieces of clothing with magnet closures, Velcro and other modified and alternate clothing functions. The wonderful thing about the collection is that it is truly inclusive as the clothing looks exactly the same as the “normal” Tommy Hilfiger Kids collection without additional cost. These adaptive clothing collections make it possible for children with special needs to dress like everyone else.

No outcast: Tommy Hilfiger launched its second adaptive clothing collection for both adults and kids (photo source: Tommy Hilfiger USA website).

To make a further upturn in the fashion industry, Tommy Hilfiger introduced in autumn last year Tommy Adaptive, a new collection featuring clothes with modified closures and adjustable features. This time the new collection offers clothing for both adults and kids with more than 100 pieces in total. With its second adaptive collection available to shop online, the fashion brand aims to continue its promotion of inclusivity and democratization of fashion.

To find out more about the launch of Tommy Adaptive Clothing Collection and how disability rights organizations think about this new collection and dressing difficulties in general:

To learn more about the kids’ adaptive clothing offered by Mark & Spencer and Target:

What are your experiences with adaptive clothing? What do you think the fashion industry can do for people with disabilities?

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