Over the past couple of months, there have been more and more designers taking on adaptive clothing to cater to an underrepresented client base: people with disabilities. And now ASOS is adding its name to that list, where ASOS collaborated with a para-athlete to create a jumpsuit for wheelchair users.
Linking up with BBC Bristol sports reporter and para-athlete Chloe Ball-Hopkins, the two took months to create the perfect festival outfit that would not only be the perfect rainy-weekend-on-the-grounds look for able bodied individuals, but was also specially designed with people who use wheelchairs in mind.
A watercolor, tie-dye jumpsuit, it features both long sleeves and long pants. To make putting it on and taking it off easier, the jacket and trousers zip together, and both are fully waterproof.
Ball-Hopkins announced the news this week on her Twitter account, writing, "So over the last several months I have been working with @ASOS to create a fashionable, yet practical waterproof all in one! Not just for people like me in a chair but for anyone. It's about making fashion accessible!"
She ended the announcement asking, "So what should be next?!," implying that there could be more collaborations in the near future.
The collaboration came about when Ball-Hopkins went to a festival last year and got soaked, and being proactive about the less-than-stellar experience, she emailed ASOS directly and offered up her suggestion. The retailer worked closely with her throughout the whole design process and execution, making sure that it was up to par with what her vision was.
But probably the coolest part about this piece is that though it's wheelchair friendly, people who don't use wheelchairs can buy and wear the exact same piece. There is no distinction between the two — it's just made with extra details that make it wheelchair friendly, showing how easy it would be to extend that same courtesy to other collections and labels.
"You get the same version whether it's you or I buying it — that's the point. It is exactly the same for me as it is for you," Ball-Hopkins told BBC.
While so far there is only one adaptive piece that ASOS has worked on, Ball-Hopkins' tweet suggests there could be more collaborations in the future.
ASOS isn't the only mainstream label beginning to cater to the disabled community, where just recently the athleisure brand Outdoor Voices launched their first swimwear collection, and their campaign featured amputee model Mama Cax to show that their bathing suits are for all.
Then Tommy Hilfiger's Spring 2018 adaptive clothing line was designed especially for people with disabilities, taking into account that things like zippers, rows of buttons, and tights jeans could be seen as obstacles for people with physical disabilities.
And when one says that that is a community overwhelmingly ignored by the fashion industry, that is not an exaggeration. According to the Census Bureau, 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability, which means nearly one in five people would need some sort of adaptive clothing. And seeing how none of the major retailers or fashion labels create special clothing lines with their needs in mind — or at the very least add thoughtful details to clothing items that would make them easier to put on — it becomes obvious that people with disabilities are largely ignored.
Hilfiger's clothing line used details like Velcro closures that make fastening a cinch, wrist loops to help put on pants, adjustable shirt and pant hems to accommodate a prosthetic or brace, and magnetic buttons.
It's great to see that ASOS has made strides to cater to the disabled community, and here's to hoping that they extend into a whole new line, just like they did for plus size, petite, and tall bodies.