History of Adaptive Fashion: Insipiring A New Wave of Representation

History of Adaptive Fashion: Insipiring A New Wave of Representation

Posted by Marketing Team on

Did you know that people have always been making clothes for disabled bodies? It makes sense when you think about it - everyone experiences disability differently, and it can happen at any point in life, whether through a sudden accident or a permanent condition.

Adaptive clothing has always been around. In the past, garments were specifically made to fit an individual's body type and needs, but today, more and more adaptive clothing are mass produced to cater to a wide variety of needs. Between 1955 and 1976 in the USA, nearly 30% of top designers joined forces to create the Functional Fashions Line, focusing solely on garments that suited disabled bodies.

drawing of Helen Cookman author of the book Functional Fashions for the Physically Handicapped

One designer who stood out was Helen Cookman - who had her own hearing loss disability. She designed a collection of adaptive clothing, which started with a special belt with pockets to hold her hearing aids. She co-wrote a book called Functional Fashions for the Physically Handicapped.

Read the Functional Fashions for the Physically Handicapped here.

Cookman's designs were ahead of their time, featuring features like easy-to-reach pockets and hidden adaptive elements. But unfortunately, the movement declined after Cookman and her colleagues passed away. It wasn't until 2014 when model and psychologist Danielle Sheypuk flaunted her wheelchair look down the New York Fashion Week runway, inspiring a new wave of adaptive fashion and disability representation.

Over the past three years, the fashion industry has seen a positive shift towards incorporating adaptive clothing and representing individuals with disabilities. This ongoing movement is challenging the traditional definition of fashion and its exclusivity. A new wave of creators with disabilities is emerging and bringing their unique perspectives to the world of fashion. They create wearable art that pays tribute to their communities, instead of simply providing a functional solution to their needs. This groundbreaking approach is not only changing the game but also opening doors for more diversity and inclusivity in fashion.

So, how will you get involved in this historical fashion movement? 

Join our community!

The Shapes United is a fashionable adaptive, inclusive, and accessible clothing label from Melbourne Australia. We are a brand for those with their own physical stories to tell. And we make it possible for our customers to express themselves through adaptive and inclusive fashion and design. 

Sign up to our mailing list to receive invites to groups, events, and promotions on products. 

We are the shapes united #wearetheshapesunited.

The Shapes United Joins The ATSA Expo 2023

We are so excited to announce that The Shapes United is joining the ATSA Expo in Melbourne this month. Our founder, Penny Webber, will be delivering an inspiring discussion about how adaptive wear can benefit people with long term and short term situations. Don't miss it!


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