Aussie adaptive fashion brand The Shapes United makes history as it launches in Walmart

Aussie adaptive fashion brand The Shapes United makes history as it launches in Walmart

Posted by Marketing Team on

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Melbourne-based inclusive clothing brand The Shapes United has become the first Australian adaptive fashion label of its kind to be sold at Walmart across the US, after the retail giant contacted the small business last year wanting to expand its adaptive clothing options. 

It all started with a LinkedIn message in April 2022, when a Walmart representative contacted The Shapes United founder and Melbourne fashion designer Penny Weber asking to include her clothing brand – which has been designed for people with reduced mobility, sensory issues and any other additional needs – in the Walmart adaptive clothing range.

“To be honest, I didn’t think it was real. I spent some time researching first before I replied. It was legitimate and the person was real,” recalls Weber, who launched The Shapes United, and its sister brand Recovawear, after she narrowly escaped with her life when she was involved in a serious car accident in 2009 that saw the left side of her body affected.

The entrepreneur says the partnership is a real ‘pinch me’ moment.

“This feels like a strange moment in time,” she tells SmartCompany

“To have such a small Australian brand included in a groundbreaking new product category with one of the largest retailers in the world is such an honor.

The Shapes United


“It has been such a journey to get to this point. To set up the business correctly for the American market was more challenging than I originally thought but once we worked out how all the pieces connected, it all came together.”

The Shapes United products are being featured in Walmart as a part of National Disability Pride month, with the official launch on National Disability Independence Day on July 26. 

Weber says the products are currently part of ‘adaptive on Walmart’ and featured on the front page of its website. 

“Walmart has been so progressive in how they have been onboarding this new category,” she says. 

“We initially just organised the stock we could within the short lead time. This included the top sellers of our adaptive and sensory ranges from Australia.  

“Now that we are launched, we will send more of our new products for listing in the not-too-distant future. There is always that chance that this new category can make its way into stores.” 

Designing clothes that make “lives easier, more comfortable and colourful”

Weber says there are so many reasons why she decided to start The Shapes United.

“Firstly, I was significantly injured several years ago from an accident and very literally had nothing to wear, so we created the first sets of products based on what I needed at that time. I was living in a share house and had no way to dress myself, which really was the motivation for that first collection,” she explains. 

“Fast forward a couple of years and my partner’s cousin approached me to make clothes for him. He is a wonderful human with the biggest heart but has issues finding the right fit for him given his non-standard body shape and mobility needs. He really needed clothes to be a spokesperson and go to the football, but there weren’t commercially available clothes for him.

“There have been so many requests for different types of products of varying levels of function and fashion along the way. It’s so great to have the team within The Shapes United, who love a challenge to address these needs with added personalised flair.”

In 2021, after working with the Remarkable startup accelerator, a division of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Weber found there was a need in the market for a diverse range of clothing options that were more inclusively designed. 

The founder says she finds it so fascinating that people refer to adaptive and/or functional clothes as niche wear. 

“In Australia, one in five people are classified by the Census as having a disability. We have a section at the local department stores for maternity wear, which realistically is around 300,000 people per year, yet there isn’t a section at the department store for more functional wear for the 6.2 million people that might have differing needs,” she says. 

“In the US, the numbers are even higher … There are more available options in the US than in Australia however, everyone has their own function and style needs. It’s really a matter of personal choice.

“We find people that purchase The Shapes United come from all areas of life. Ultimately, what we are making can be used by anyone at any point in their lives. It really is a universal design. 

“We are doing our best every day to help create those options that our community requests. It’s an exciting day when we get to see the look on people’s faces when they have something that can make their lives easier, more comfortable, and colourful.”

As for future plans for The Shapes United, Weber ended the chat with SmartCompany with a hint. 

“We are back busy in our design labs working on our new product lines for more upcoming releases. One hint I will give, the future looks vintage,” she said.


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