Challenging perceptions of disability through design

Disability, Fashion -

Challenging perceptions of disability through design

One of our goals here at Kintsugi is to challenge the ways people perceive disability. We often do this by sharing content from disability activists, but we also want our designs to have an impact. 

Does fashion really have the power to drive change?

Close up of a denim jacket with political pin badges on it

In some ways, fashion reflects society's opinions. Consider the 60s, when people became less prudish about sex. Is it any surprise that the mini-skirt became popular in this era?

The 'hippy' style we now mostly embrace for fancy dress parties came about, in part, as a statement of opposition to the Vietnam war (accompanying image by Photo by Melinda Martin-Khan). Flowers became a symbol of pacifism and peace, so clothing from the late 60s and 70s often featured them.

The slogan tee is another example of fashion's power to drive social change. Slogans like "we should all be feminists" and "this is what a feminist looks like" kicked back against the connotations of feminism that put many women (and men) off. They helped to illustrate that feminism and misandry are not one and the same.

Knowing this, Kintsugi wanted to use its platform to make some statements of its own.


Andrew Gurza created this viral hashtag. He wrote on Twitter that: "Disabled people are so often desexualized and removed from the 'hot' category automatically".

Print design of pin-up girl in wheelchair

This statement got us thinking, and we contacted graphic artist Rich Fairhead to help us create some unique designs. We had noticed that disabled women are rarely - if ever - represented in the rockabilly pin-up style we're fond of.

To change this, we created three designs to print onto t-shirts: a fifties beach babe with an ostomy bag, a Rosie the Riveter style woman with prosthetic arm, and a rockabilly girl in a wheelchair.

Moving forward

The reaction to these designs has, so far, been positive. We'd love to do some more, to represent even more body types, so if these sell well, we'll use the revenue to do just that. To buy one, head to and enjoy £1.99 delivery and free returns.

Which is your favourite design? Do you have an idea that we've not done yet? Let us know in the comments and feel free to share this article if you enjoyed it.

Happy shopping!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published