There are about one billion people with disabilities in the world.  That means that 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disabilityDisability prevalence is higher for developing countries. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities. What about finding the right clothing for them?
Mindy Scheier wanted to clothe children with disabilities

Runway of Dreams Foundation (RODF) was founded in 2014 by Mindy Scheier – a fashion designer and mother of a child with a disability. Her journey began when her son Oliver, who has a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, wanted to wear jeans to school like his friends. She soon realized that millions of people around the world were also struggling to access fashionable clothing that meets their needs. She envisioned a world where adaptive clothing for people with disabilities was mainstream. After spending 20 years in the fashion industry and opening a design school for kids, Mindy decided to combine her experience and her passion by creating the Runway of Dreams Foundation.


Tommy Hilfiger joined Scheier to launch a new adaptive children’s collection

Fashion-leader Tommy Hilfiger took a step toward giving people with disabilities more choices last year when it launched a new adaptive children’s collection in collaboration with the adaptive fashion-focused organization, Runway of Dreams. In doing so, Hilfiger became the first American designer fashion brand to launch an adaptive children’s line. But the founder of Runway of Dreams, Mindy Scheier, does not want to stop there. The Runway of Dreams collection has the same designs as its traditional pieces but includes modified closures, adjustability, and alternate options to get in and out of the garments.


Scheier’s three major requirements: modified closures, adjustability and alternate in/out options

These are the three major requirements that Scheier fights for in adaptive fashion. As noted, she founded Runway when she was unable to find a fashionable pair of jeans for her son, who uses leg braces as a result of muscular dystrophy. Searching for answers to her son’s dilemma, she spent an entire night switching out a button and zipper fly for magnets and adding wide openings on the bottom of pant legs, then sealed them with magnetic closures. This not only made the jeans easy to pull on and fit over her son’s leg braces, it also caused Scheier to question why modifications like this weren’t readily available for all consumers with disabilities.


Adaptive clothing shakes up the world

Armed with a new mission, Scheier set out to bring adaptive fashion into the big leagues. When she pitched her idea and presented her off-the-rack adaptations to Tommy Hilfiger, the fashion giant was almost immediately onboard. Hilfiger’s enthusiasm was more than a token gesture and has proven to be profitable. “The impact has been fantastic,” says Gary Sheinbaum, CEO of Tommy Hilfiger Americas, on the Hilfiger website. “We’ve had customers purchase from almost all 50 states and in the first quarter two of our top six selling styles on were from this collection. In fact, 20 percent of our kids’ business was driven by this special capsule.”


What you wear affects how you think about yourself
Clothing is very important to everyone. It affects how we think about ourselves. In her 2014 book, Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, Karen Pine goes ‘behind the seams’, revealing the hidden secrets contained in the clothes we wear. She uncovers startling evidence for how our clothes have the power to change our minds.
Adaptive clothing also for seniors and others with disabilities

However, finding clothing to wear remains a challenge. The very act of getting dressed and undressed increases the  challenge for people with disabilities of all ages, to say nothing about finding the right clothes to put on. This can be the result of a physical disability, chronic condition, and/or other restrictions that may come with disease or age. This is where adaptive clothing can be of great help. Adaptive clothing is designed to make it easy to dress/undress by providing easy access to certain body parts without having to fully remove any clothing, making life simpler for aging adults, people with disabilities of all ages, as well as their caregivers.



What then is Adaptive Clothing?

Adaptive clothing is designed with the dressing needs of the elderly and people with disabilities of all ages. It’s also important to mention that there are styles and designs unique to each of the challenges someone may face. Typically, the adapted features include:

  • Velcro-type closures instead of buttons
  • Open-back blouses, shirts, and dresses with Velcro-type closures that still retain the traditional button styling on the front
  • Lap-over back-style garments with snaps for the individual who cannot raise their arms
  • Zippers with easy-to-grasp pull tabs
  • Pants with side zippers
  • Seatless pants to help with incontinence
  • Shoes with Velcro-type closures instead of shoelaces
  • Slippers that adjust in width to accommodate swollen feet and ankles


An online search reveals 14 companies now offering adaptive clothing
  1. Nike FlyEase is made for athletes of all abilities and ages
  2. Tommy Hilfiger’s adaptive clothing
  3.  Under Armour’s adaptive styles.
  4. Independence Day Clothing
  5. BILLY Footwear
  6. Target’s adaptive collection
  7.  Shop 4ward.
  8. Reboundwear
  9. MagnaReady
  10. PLAE – shoes for kids
  11. NBZ Clothing
  12. Care+Wear
  13. Silvert’s
  14. Etsy’s collection of adaptive clothing 

If you need adaptive clothing or know someone who does, be sure to share this information.