Accessibility in Fashion too… Customized fashion on a customized catwalk!

For the first time in its history, Australian Fashion Week presented an adapted fashion runway with creations designed for people with disabilities. The fashion show entitled Adaptive Clothing Collective included creations of the brands: JAM the Label and Christina Stephens.

Clothing is designed to meet a variety of needs, with designs often including magnetic buttons, zippered shoes, and temperature-controlling fabrics. Carol Taylor, designer and co-founder of Christina Stephens, started designing her own clothes after becoming a quadriplegic. Ms. Taylor said that after her spinal cord injury, she was frustrated by the lack of options offered by mainstream fashion.

“Clothes have dynamism and I loved fashion before my injury,” she said. “Fashion didn’t fit me, I felt very alone and very excluded… When I started designing for myself, I found my voice.” “Clothes have a direct impact on how people perceive you and so often (people) look down on someone with a disability.”

Ms Taylor said she wanted people with disabilities to be able to enjoy mainstream fashion and the experience of shopping for clothes. “The message we want to get across is that custom fashion is mainstream fashion. We want to move far away from this medical model of tailored clothing,” she said.

“In the trade we have plus size fashion, we have maternity wear and so many other categories… But, one in five Australians has a disability, where is it represented in mainstream fashion?”

“Mainstream fashion needs to wake up and see that there is a demand for it”…

The history-making show featured 10 disabled models from across Australia, including disability advocate Lisa Cox, actress and disability advocate Chloe Hayden and Dr. Dinesh Palipana who took the Queensland Australian of the Year 2021 title.

Dr. Palipana said that the experience of participating in this particular fashion show was “indescribable”. “Throughout this journey after I had a spinal cord injury and became a quadriplegic, a lot of people told me about the things I could and couldn’t do”.

“One of the biggest things I noticed when I first had spinal cord surgery was that there was so much to think about: Clothes that don’t feel tight, clothes that are easy to get on and off, clothes that they allow you to move around easily when you’re in a wheelchair, but you also want to be you and express yourself.”

“[I love] the idea of ​​fashion being updated, constantly adapting and allowing all people to express themselves.”

Translation – Rendering: Elisavet Latsiou