David and Rut working

Inclusive fashion or adapted fashion

We have been talking about inclusive fashion, adapted fashion, inclusive design, design for inclusion, fashion for all, fashion accessibility, etc. for some years now.

A list of hashtags and names appear on social networks combining these words to ensure that we communicate well and address our target audience.

What is going on? 

We find a diversity of opinions on what we should call clothing designed for people with disabilities.

Some people prefer the word adapted while others prefer the word inclusive. The same applies to the word disability and functional diversity.

In reality, no one has a defined terminology to identify inclusive/adaptive fashion. 

The question is not whether to call it inclusive fashion or adapted clothing, the question is whether we need to add differential labels to accessible products.

We know that applying accessibility in design is beneficial for the whole population, because we all use accessibility and it makes our lives easier.

Designing for accessibility does not mean specific products for people with disabilities, so why call it anything at all?

Adapted fashion

Adapted clothing is clothing that has been transformed, adjusted to meet specific needs, such as the use of breathing tubes, ostomy bags or simply to fit non-standard bodies, such as amputees, small people or wheelchair users.

Inclusive fashion

Inclusive fashion is fashion that is the same for everyone. There are no adaptations or adjustments, the design has the functionality and accessibility necessary to serve as many people as possible without the need to be modified.

In my opinion, all products and services should be inclusive, and if an adaptation is necessary so that other groups can use it, then we call it adapted fashion.

When a garment is specific and only for people with disabilities, this is adapted fashion, because it only serves one group. For example, our sitting pants, for example, were designed for permanent sitting. If you stand up, they are more shapely at the back and are more bulky than trousers designed for standing.

Designing accessibility

The most important thing is to design accessibility without making adaptations, so that everyone can wear the same piece of clothing.

In addition, we avoid the costs of producing a specific clothing line for a specific market sector.

When adding labels to your designs, think about this: would you like to have an adapted Fashion section, or would you prefer the same clothes for everyone?

Put yourself in the shoes of people with disabilities, ask them what they think, what they identify with, what they prefer? Involve them in your design and communication strategy. This is the only way to succeed.

I am convinced that in a few years there will be a unified and accepted word that we all feel comfortable with.

In the meantime we will continue to use the terms Inclusive Fashion and Adapted Clothing.

Fashion, Design, Accessibility, Inclusive, Accessible, Adapted, Universal

Discover our professional training programmes and courses on inclusive fashion and start designing a more inclusive world. All Abilities Fashion Courses

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