Adaptive fashion is catching on

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In the last few years, fashion has made some small but crucial strides in inclusivity. It’s not quite so unusual as it was a decade ago to see diverse skin tones on the runway or mainstream brands selling an extended size range. Now, the industry is starting to focus on adaptive fashion, or fashion designed for people with disabilities.

In the last three months, brands and retailers from Erdem to JCPenney have rolled out new collections and lines designed with disabled people in mind. A billion people globally, 15% of the population, have some sort of disability. And some of the most common aspects of fashion design are inaccessible to people with certain disabilities, like having a zipper on the back of a dress. The brands doing adaptive fashion stressed that it doesn’t take much to make designs more accessible.

Alex Waldman, creative director at Universal Standard, said all that’s needed is the forethought to predict what small changes can make clothes more accessible. In March, Waldman worked with Erdem designer Erdem Moralıoğlu on a denim collection, infusing it with some accessibility-focused concepts like closures that can be fastened with one hand.

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