Fashion

“Fix The System Not Me”: The Adaptive Clothing Collective Was A Powerful Celebration Of Disabled Bodies

Fashionable, functional, and for every body.

By Ava Gilchrist
The fashion industry has come leaps and bounds in the realms of diversity and inclusivity, however the sphere of adaptive clothing is one that's often underrepresented and underplayed in the mainstream.
On Day 4 of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022, a collective of designers, focused on creating functional yet fashionable garments for both abled and disabled bodies, took to the runway to showcase and celebrate this community, which is often excluded from conversations.
The result was a powerful demonstration of the breadth of adaptive clothing, with the individuals who served as inspiration for each bespoke pieces took to the runway to model the clothing themselves.
The designers, JAM and Christina Stephens share a similar vision: act as a voice for the collective of adaptive designers whilst highlighting the endless possibilities of stylish, functional, inclusive fashion.
"We want to give people living with disabilities a choice. A choice in fashion, a choice to be included and a choice to be heard," said Christina Stephens designers Jessie Sadler and Carol Taylor in a press release.
Source: Getty
Taylor, the lead designer and co-owner of Christina Stephens and world's first quadriplegic fashion designer, revealed that the collection was inspired by a quadriplegic groom-to-be who "would never know what it would be like to unwrap his able-bodied bride".
There wasn't a dry eye in the room. Models represented the community with pride, embodying the ethos of adaptive clothing—the access to wearable clothing is a universal right.
JAM commenced the presentation with a series of stylish suits and two-piece ensembles in bold 80s inspired colourways. One model described that their outfit was influenced by his desire to dress independently.
Their contrasting magenta and sky-blue suit was a strategic choice, inspired by their visual impairment which prevents them from distinguishing between darker colours.
Wearing JAM The Label
Additional adaptive features were included, particularly magnetic button closures and zips, which provide easy access for prosthetics users.
Elsewhere, Christina Stephens presented an array of designs that empower the wearer, our favourite being a light-blue lingerie set made with adaptive fastenings for easy opening and closing.
Wearing Christina Stephens
The real standout from the presentation came in the form of a powerful message etched into the back of a trench coat, worn by Chloe Hayden who thundered down the runway with purpose.
"Fix the system, not me", read the statement, highlighting the dire need for visibility for people with disabilities and adaptive clothing to be included in the fashion narrative.
Wearing JAM The Label
Below, the collections presented at the Adaptive Runway Collective.
JAM The Label
JAM The Label
JAM The Label
JAM The Label
JAM The Label
Christina Stephens
Christina Stephens
Christina Stephens
Christina Stephens
Christina Stephens
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  • undefined: Ava Gilchrist