The high-fashion industry has been making strides in inclusivity, whether it’s age, race, or body type, and though there’s still a long way to go, it’s moving in a positive direction. Still, ableism courses through luxury fashion brands, and clothes for disabled women and men have been limited to a few high-fashion moments of note. Tommy Hilfiger hopes to be part of a change with his new fashion line specifically for people with disabilities.
The line of adaptive apparel will include 37 styles for men and 34 for women. Rather than traditional buttons and closures, Hilfiger’s clothes will use Velcro and magnets to make it easier for people with disabilities to put on and remove the items. Pants will also feature adjustable hems and seams to accommodate prosthetics and leg braces, and will have loops inside the waistband to make pulling them on easier.
"Inclusivity and the democratization of fashion have always been at the core of my brand's DNA," Tommy Hilfiger said in a statement. "These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion."
This isn’t Hilfiger’s first foray into designing for people with disabilities. Last year, the designer partnered with nonprofit Runway of Dreams, which aims to create adaptive clothing for kids of all abilities to feel comfortable in.
Thankfully, now he’s expanding into adult fashion, and hopefully many more designers take note.
There have been flashes of high-fashion moments that counter the ableism in the industry, but while one in five adults in the United States has a disability, the fashion industry has (disappointingly) largely ignored this massive population.
In 2015, FTL MODA’s New York Fashion Week runway show featured models with amputations, in wheelchairs, and using canes. Earlier this year, Derek Lam partnered with Design for Disability to create clothing for people with cerebral palsy. Parsons School of Design graduate and Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree Lucy Jones made waves with her “Seated Design” collection, exclusively for the disabled.
Still, the fashion industry has so much further to go for true inclusivity—and we don’t just mean for a little good PR.
“If you're going to have more disability visibility, you actually have to show that it's not just a PR campaign to you, and you're actually very involved and committed to designing more inclusively,” Lucy Jones herself said.
We couldn’t agree more. And hopefully Tommy Hilfiger will only inspire more designers to follow suit.