School Stylin’ – New Adaptive Clothing

Group of Children with Disabilites wearing new Adaptive Clothing Line

Headed back to school? This year, adaptive fashions are making it possible to do so in style and comfort! After years of neglect, the $3 trillion fashion industry is finally giving people with disabilities the attention they deserve. Nowadays, an ever-increasing number of individual designers and big-name brands have begun creating clothing that not only meets the practical needs of people with disabilities but provides them with opportunities to dress stylishly.

According to LA Parent, “things are heating up for adaptive clothing in the fashion world. The runways of L.A. and New York, department stores and online shopping portals are now championing adaptive lines, building a connection between functionality and fashion – and not just for adults, but children, too. Addressing specific physical needs, garments are more than just something to wear – they can provide emotional relief, long-lasting recognition and personalized joy.”

Exhibit A: A recent runway show in New York City that featured the designs of students from the city’s fashion schools who worked in concert with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. The designers were mentored by none other than design icon, Anna Sui, who told InStyle magazine that the show was “amazing.”

Tommy Hilfiger was one of the first big-name designers to feature a line of adaptive clothing beginning in 2016. The clothing, which resembles Tommy’s non-adaptive clothing, has hidden magnetic closures and one handed zippers to make dressing easier. Check out their Back to School clothes in the adaptive clothing section.

It’s been about a year since Target launched its adaptive clothing line. Stacey Monson, a designer for Target and a mother of an autistic child who isn’t toilet-trained and has minimal fine motor coordination inspired the company to create an adaptive line. Target’s adaptive clothing is tagless and seamless so it won’t bother children with sensory sensitivities. The store also sells body suits that make diaper changing more convenient and “wheelchair-friendly jackets have side-openings and zip-on sleeves for easier dressing,” writes Emily Matchar for And more good news: For 2018-2019, Target will also sell garments for adults with  physical and developmental disabilities.

Prefer to do your shopping exclusively online? No problem.  Zappos now sells adaptive shoes and clothing “from stability-enhancing sneakers to shirts with magnetic buttons,” says Matchar.

The latest big brand to get on the adaptive clothes bandwagon is Lands’ End. Though school uniforms aren’t exactly high fashion, “the 6.6 million school-age kids with a disability,” and their parents are probably grateful for the innovation” writes parenting blogger Caroline Hogeveen on Romper. In fact, Hogeveen calls Lands’ End adapted school uniform clothes “a gamechanger.”

Here’s hoping that the movement to design adapted, fashion-forward clothing continues to grow.