As societies around the world take positive steps towards equality, fashion is catching up by embracing diversity. If what people wear matters – to their sense of dignity and their well-being – then fashion brands are increasingly striving to ensure no one is left behind, whether they need mobility support, maternity wear, or improved plus-size style options.
Adaptive fashion is one of the diversity markets showing vast potential. It aims to meet the needs of people who are unable to wear conventional clothing without difficulty or support due to a disability. Having transformed from its 1980s functional look, adaptive clothing is recognized by Coherent Market Insights as a global market set to be worth nearly USD393 billion by 2026. That should be no surprise when one considers more than a billion people are estimated to be living with disabilities, according to the World Health Organization and World Bank.
The fashion industry – including Samsung C&T Fashion Group – has taken note of this demand to diversify clothing, as every season offers new collections for people of all abilities.
Variety as a global movement
Even the exclusive world of haute couture is embracing diversity. The Fashion Spot has reported consistent progression on the runways of New York, London, Milan, and Paris since Spring 2015. Fall 2019, for example, witnessed the second-biggest number of non-straight-size model castings during that time, and the most age-diverse fashion weeks on record in New York and Paris.
Tommy Hilfiger is among the brands spearheading the diversity movement. As well as gaining praise for casting models of various ethnicities, sizes, and ages, Tommy has been showcasing its adaptive clothing at New York Fashion Week. Tommy Hilfiger himself has children on the autistic spectrum, inspiring his adaptive line for kids in 2016 and incorporating adults since 2018. These collections cater to individual needs, including magnetic closures instead of buttons and one-hand zipper jackets, while other industry giants like Nike have been developing easy-on-and-off footwear for athletes of all abilities.
As more brands take diversity seriously, the outcome is greater choice and more appealing styles. Pregnancy-friendly clothing is no exception. Zara, for instance, earned critical acclaim for the maternity line it launched in late 2018, but is being rivaled by other high street players such as H&M.
Fashion for all abilities
South Korean online-only outfit Heartist has also taken significant steps toward diversity. Heartist was inspired by the fact that despite the country’s 2.55 million people with disabilities – among whom 950,000 are economically active – there is a lack of clothing brands reflecting the characteristics and needs of the disabled population, so their fashion choices are extremely limited.
Combining the words “heart” and “artist,” the Heartist brand name signifies listening to the world and with a warm heart coming together to realize the real beautiful value of it. The Heartist brand strives to create meaning beyond clothing, to add sensitivity and creativity to people’s lives. The Heartist story has emerged as Samsung C&T Fashion Group has progressed from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to creating social value (CSV).
Designed and rigorously tested by fashion experts and rehabilitation specialists working with a local civic group, WeFirst, Heartist unveiled 27 styles of jackets, blouses, t-shirts, pants, and skirts for this Spring/Summer season. With a particular emphasis on business casual wear, these products feature convenient details that take into account the challenges wheelchair users face in their everyday lives.
For example, Action Bands, made up of stretchy jersey fabric patched to the armholes of jackets and shirts, offer more comfort in motion. Magnetic buttons enable one-handed buttoning and unbuttoning, while auxiliary zippers provide additional support. Moreover, high-rise Comfort Pants featuring an E-band keep the wearer’s belly area comfortable when seated.
The profits from Heartist will be used as a public welfare fund for disabled people, and will support disabled children and teenagers’ art education – providing talented youth an opportunity to grow and become part of society by helping them continue creative work. Heartist’s collection can be found at ssfshop.com, with 30 to 50 percent lower prices than regular brands.
Combining the words “heart” and “artist,” the Heartist story has emerged as Samsung C&T Fashion Group has progressed from corporate social responsibility to creating social value (CSV). The Heartist is Samsung C&T Fashion Group’s representative CSV brand.