Adaptive clothing is quite simply any clothing that makes getting dressed and undressed easier for people with physical disabilities or sensory issues. It can be as simple as a pair of elasticated pants that are easy to pull on and off or have adjusters to make them easily change size or more complex clothing that ‘locks’ for Alzheimer’s patients to prevent undressing at inappropriate moments. For people with sensory issues, clothes that avoid zippers and buttons and replace them with Velcro or magnets can make a big difference.
Independent Brands Leading The Way
As is so often the case in the field of special needs, it tends to be family members who find solutions first, in response to their relative’s needs. Many items of adaptive clothing have been ‘invented’ by family members trying to solve problems.
We spoke to Stephanie Berry of SAGSStore (available on www.Etsy.com), who created her range of adaptive gloves and mittens when her husband had a stroke. With cold weather affecting his hands even more, making it impossible for him to open them out, Stephanie needed to find a solution. She created an easy open glove that solves the problem of ‘feeding’ fingers into the finger holes as it opens right over the main part of the hand (see the pictures below). Stephanie says, “My gloves work well for anyone suffering from hand paralysis or any other limiting hand function’.
Big Brands Embracing Adaptive Clothing
Several large brands including Nike and Tommy Hilfiger have created adaptive clothing lines within their ranges. After receiving multiple customer requests for adaptive shoes, for example, Nike designed its FLYEASE technology – where certain shoes have a zipper and strap that go all around the heel of the shoe making it much easier to pull off. This technology has been added to shoes across a number of their ranges now.
Tommy Hilfger started creating adaptive clothing in 2016 and has expanded the range to include not only clothes that feature easy openers such as Velcro, but clothes specifically adapted for people with prosthetic limbs and wheelchair users.
Hopefully as time moves on, more brands will consider featuring adaptive clothing and shoes in their ranges. There is a huge need for functional but aesthetically pleasing clothing and accessories for people with so many different types of special needs and the ranges that do exist sell really well.
Check Out Our Specialist Directory
We feature a number of adaptive clothing and equipment suppliers - including SAGSStore- in our Supportal Directory, so do take a look. If you have a business selling adaptive equipment or clothing, or anything specifically for the special needs community you can get a month’s free trial if you set up a listing today.