Inclusive fashion: our hopes and predictions for 2021
Since Lottie Jackson featured us in her Guardian article in December 2019 ['Why 2019 was a landmark year for disabled fashion'], progress in this space has been patchy but promising.
To be fair, the dumpster fire of 2020 hasn't made it easy for people to push on with any previously made plans; manufacturing has been a stop-start business, rife with uncertainty. It would be understandable for mainstream brands on the cusp of exploring inclusive design to have pulled back.
For small businesses and startups, keeping the lights on has been hard enough this year. Despite this, we have seen some new kids on the block. Independent labels run by solo entrepreneurs or small teams are still taking risks, even if larger businesses are not. We expect this trend to continue into 2021 as more innovative new companies spring up around the world.
New inclusive brands on our radar
In Australia, JAM the label looks set to shake up the inclusive clothing space. Like us, their mission is to create clothing with disability in mind, but which can be worn by anyone.
In the UK, Unhidden Clothing offers 'socially responsible adaptive clothing for people with Disabilities'. They work on a 'made to order' basis, to make sure they don't end up with excess stock, therefore not creating waste.
Our hopes for inclusive fashion in 2021
This year, we hope to see some exciting new collaborations take place. Since Selma Blair spoke about wanting to work with a couture designer to create a disability-friendly clothing range, we've been keeping an eye open for it (if we've missed it, please let us know).
We're also keen for sustainability to be taken more seriously in 2021. As the pandemic forced humans off the roads, nature was able to make a comeback and the effect on the environment was noticeable. It would be a great shame if, this year, we reversed that progress.
It would similarly disappointing if we chose to forget other lessons revealed to us during this pandemic, notably the behaviour of certain fast fashion businesses, who arguably put profit above people. Labour Behind the Label reported that workers were "being forced to come into work while sick with COVID-19" in some Leicester factories. As consumers, we have a part to play in this by putting our money where our mouth is.
Our plans as an inclusive brand
We're eager to co-create a new collection with disabled people who want to share their ideas, but manufacturing is a challenge for us at the moment and we're focused on building up enough cash to invest in such a huge undertaking. In the immediate term, we'll be looking for items from small suppliers that meet our accessibility criteria.
Put simply, we're keen to source products that are both stylish and tick our boxes in that they have useful features for people with certain health conditions. Sometimes, designs lend themselves to certain impairments without the designer having intended it. We aim to find and deliver such designs, as we work towards creating and developing our own.
You may also have noticed that we are trying to increase our size offering, introducing a new dress in sizes 18-24 and a new top in sizes 20-26 (see above image). We will continue to source plus-size products this year, as well as introducing a couple of smaller sizes, recognising that certain conditions can lead to weight and/or muscle loss. No body is 'wrong' and we want to be able to deliver products for every body, as we set out when we launched back in 2018.
For you, our supporters, we wish you a Happy New Year and hope that it will be full of peace, personal fulfillment and self-care. Let 2021 be more inclusive and less divided.