How Global Fashion Designers Are Shining A Light On Disability And Inclusivity

(Photo: Unsplash)
(Photo: Unsplash)

Although 25% of adults in the United States have a disability, just 0.02% of fashion and beauty campaigns showcase people with disabilities. Fortunately, tides are starting to turn, and major designers and campaigns are changing the conversation about beauty ideals and disability inclusivity. By designing for and casting models with disabilities, these big names are helping make lasting positive change in the industry.

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive

Tommy Hilfiger’s adaptive clothing line is the first of its kind from a major fashion label. Launching in 2016, Hilfiger teamed up with Runway of Dreams, a non-profit dedicated to empowering people with disabilities, in order to create the line. Designed to make fashion more accessible, Hilfiger’s adaptive clothing features key details like Velcro-band and bungee-cord closures, adjustable hems, and magnetic buttons. The recent Spring 2021 adaptive clothing collection features a diverse cast of models, such as Paralympian Rheed McCracken, Paralympic swimmer and track runner Haven Shepherd, and ex-football player Isaiah Pead. “Getting dressed should be a joy – an experience that empowers you to look good and feel good in what you are wearing. Our adaptive collections have revolutionized everyday dressing for people with disabilities, giving them the independence and confidence to express their individuality through style,” said Tommy Hilfiger.

Derek Lam’s Design For Disability Fashion Show

Designer Derek Lam recently held a Design For Disability Fashion Show, which featured 18 models with cerebral palsy on the runway. Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary from person to person, but typically affect an individual’s movement, balance and posture, CP Family Network explains. Teaming up with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and fashion students, Lam endeavored to design pieces — a blend of streetwear, athleisure, and evening wear — that show that style and function can go hand-in-hand. “We are talking about very serious things like diversity and gender and empowerment — but I feel like the conversation never really comes up about a large segment of the population, which is those with disabilities,” Lam said. “I would love to see these collections that we’re going to show tonight be available in the marketplace. These clothes look terrific for everybody. It’s just a universal conversation about great design.”

 With global fashion designers making positive statements of disability inclusivity, it’s hoped more will follow suit. Tommy Hilfiger and Derek Lam are great examples of how to successfully celebrate a variety of diverse bodies.


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