Standard sizing is very exclusionary to differently abled people. Why is that?
We talk about ‘standard’ clothing or ‘sample’ sizing, expecting it to cater to a large group of people. A pair of jeans might be a perfect fit from one brand, but two sizes too small from another. The way we have been taught to consider and design for the body has been so static and precise. Take the tailored jacket for example, a beautiful piece, but as soon as the wearer tries to lift something or bend down with the jacket done up their movements are restricted. If this practice of the fashion industry applies to most able-bodied individuals, its approach to bodies that disabled are even more exclusionary.
The lack of adaptive clothing available limits fashion options for people with a disability. There are several consequences to this - from the individual feeling insecure, limitations on their independence as they may need a carer to assist with dressing, or when the clothing becomes a safety hazard.
While adaptive clothing has become more popular as we push for inclusivity aesthetic value is often neglected, leading to limited style variation and choice. In store and online accessibility, cost and limited stock also add to these challenges. I approached designing for disabilities in the most visual and physical method I could, cutting out old clothes and ‘adapting’ them to specific movement requirements, and then applying these new adaptations to the designs I had created, rejecting the typical method of designing.
What would you love to do in the future or see in the industry in the future?
I would love to be able to push this research that I’m doing into a PhD, where I can look at further ways to dress the disabled body combined with research into sustainable and biodegradable fashion practices. I want my work to be practical and wearable, but also serve as a purpose promoting more creative and inclusive work by the future designers of today.
Story: Saskia Kostic