Accessibility, Autism, Technology

Tommy Hilfiger Debuts New Adaptive Clothing Line

 May 16, 2018

By  Deborah L Weiner Katz, OTR/L, CCM, CLCP

When we posted that Target was set to debut its own adaptive clothing line, we had a feeling that other brands would follow. After all, what designer could resist the challenge of inventing new styles for people who have disabilities? In Tommy Hilfiger’s new collection for differently abled adults, called Tommy Adaptive, the designer has responded to the challenge with 37 new styles for men and 34 for women, including shirts, pants, jackets, dresses and more.

The whole idea of adaptive clothing is to make getting dressed easier. This means including features like magnetic zippers, Velcro closures and adjustable hems. People who have a limb difference or need to compensate for a prosthesis or a leg brace need clothes that are easy to put on and take off.

Hilfiger’s commitment to adaptive clothing actually began in 2016 with a children’s collection. In a statement, the designer says “Inclusivity and the democratization of fashion have always been at the core of my brand’s DNA.”

The road to these breakthroughs has been paved by nonprofits like Runway of Dreams, which raises awareness for the need for adaptive clothing. Not only did it partner with Hilfiger for that initial 2016 launch, but its ambassador, model Rebekah Marine, was born without a right forearm and is one of the models in the designer’s newest campaign. She joins 18 year old autistic chef Jeremiah Josey and a diverse cast of differently abled talents.

The runway is the perfect venue for individuals with disabilities, of all ages, to assert their place in the fashion world. Between fashion shows that celebrate kids with disabilities and a model becoming the first amputee to walk at New York’s Fashion Week, it seems that a significant shift in the perception of disability is afoot.

One in five Americans live with a disability. When you look at it that way, incorporating these solutions is simply smart business. Expanded back and side openings, easy-open necklines, one-handed zippers and wrist loops that make pulling on pants easier are simply the result of common sense and ingenuity. With his familiar red-white-and-blue palette, Hilfiger’s efforts are at least guaranteed to make an impact on Americans. Creating a more accommodating world is the ultimate goal, and a welcome one at that.

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