Loungewear: Gateway to Adaptive Fashion

Over the years I’ve worked as a consultant formally and informally, and there is one theme that comes up in most sessions, the idea that designing for disability is a daunting task, but the reality is that it isn’t daunting, it’s overlooked. Mostly because we (disabled and people with disabilities) are rarely if ever considered outside the confines of medical or charitable models of disability. So relax, don’t beat yourself up about what you don’t know, I’m a person with a disability who has followed clothing and retail trends for the disabled 28 years and there are things I’m still learning, which is exactly the way it should be. The disabled and people with disabilities are not a monolith, our culture is diverse and it spans all ethnicities, ages, and nationalities. But there is one thing our culture is, it’s made up of humans, many of which who love expressing themselves through fashion and all of which get dressed.

This brings me to loungewear. If you are a fashion brand interested in designing for the disabled, take a look at your current SKU’s and highlight the loungewear or loungewear-like pieces. Loungewear can act as a seamless gateway into adaptive fashion. There are many definitions of adaptive fashion as it relates to people with disabilities, but I define it based on my Disability Fashion Styling System (DFSS) as long as a garment, footwear or accessory meet the standard of my DFSS I consider it adaptive.

Here are some examples of loungewear with and without fasteners. One note about In early March Zara moved the loungewear tab to the top of the women’s shopping menu. I thought this was brilliant, but I checked today, and although on the list its no longer at the top.

Wouldn’t it be great if all brands with mostly fastener-free loungewear included a tab labeled universal design in the shopping menu? Doing this would make it easier for people with disabilities, arthritis, and injuries to shop.

Stephanie Thomas

Photo Credit: Universal Standard

Today no one knows what the fashion industry will look like post COVID 19, if you’re looking for ways to expand your market and diversify by including fashion designed with disability in mind please let me know I’m happy to chat with you and start the conversation.

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  1. Melissa Bedley says:

    More adaptable for people with central lines and feeding tubes. It’s really hard to find clothing to accommodate us. Love this so much.


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