Adaptive Fashion and the New Normal

2019 was a pivotal year for the adaptive sector of the fashion industry. I know, I’ve followed fashion and clothing trends for the disabled for over two decades. Last year the pace at which I received interview requests to discuss my work as a disability fashion stylist signified a cultural shift. But did this interest translate into more Accessible, Smart, Fashionable™ clothing options for people with disabilities? No, not yet.

In the time of COVID-19, what happens to the progress made in the adaptive fashion sector of the industry over the last couple of years? I don’t know the answer to this question, but I’m confident that we will find a way forward. So I’m feverishly reading everything I can, attending Zoom conversations, listening to podcasts, and watching Instagram Lives to see what other professionals, who know more than I do, are saying about the state of the fashion industry during the time of COVID 19. I also have a lot of questions about where people with disabilities fit into this new normal, so I’ve dedicated an entire category of my blog to explore questions like:

Dark black and white image of a woman's store, with floor lighting. around the bottom of a display with two models dressed in combat boots with white t-shirts.
  • Will the popularity of comfort wear, due to safer at home mandates, usher in the era of universally designed clothing for sitting, standing, and laying down?
  • Since many people with disabilities know what it’s like to live in a world with life-threatening barriers, will that make them the go-to thought leaders in the fashion industry as we navigate the post-COVID 19 era?
  • How will the need for social distancing impact fashion stylists and costume designers for theatre, film, and television?
  • What about shopping in brick and mortar stores, what can we expect?
  • What about fashion shows? Will “phygital” shows become the next iteration of the fashion show?
  • What about supply chains, will mass order cancellations create more fashion waste?
  • Naomi Campbell styled and took a picture of herself for the cover Essence magazine with her iPhone and Zach Baron styled and photographed himself for the cover of GQ Magazine, what does this mean for the future of photoshoots?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I will continue to explore them. Let’s have this critical conversation; considering the impact of this pandemic that’s claimed so many lives and left so many jobless in such a short period of time, this an opportunity to reimagine the fashion industry. Make it slower, inclusive, sustainable, responsive.

NOTE: This article was updated May 15, 2020

Please Stay Safe and Be Well,

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