Adaptive clothing becoming a trend for designers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The clothing available for people with disabilities is limited and isn't always the latest trend. But the fashion industry is taking notice and designing modern adaptive apparel that addresses some people's physical difficulties.

Like most teenage boys, Justin Moy admits he isn't much into fashion.

"Sometimes I don't even know the color of clothing I'm wearing."

But realizing there was a need for comfort and the latest trends, Justin works with fashion designers to help create adaptive apparel-- clothes specifically designed for those with special needs.

"I think it is important to show that even people with disabilities can wear a fashionable clothing style, and really that shows how equal people with disabilities can be to other people."

Justin has a severe form of scoliosis, which forces him to sit in a wheelchair. He has limited arm movement, which makes putting on standard clothing difficult.

"It's not as easy to manipulate, and therefore gives less independence to people like me."

But that is all changing with the Open Style Lab at MIT. The program teams designers, engineers, and occupational therapists to develop wearable solutions for people with varying disabilities.

"We try to raise awareness about inclusive design, and that disability is not just seen as a personal health condition but it's part of the natural human experience," said Grace Jun, Open Style Lab at MIT.

Although the Open Style Lab doesn't sell clothes to the public mainstream designers are taking notice. Tommy Hilfiger has a line of adaptive wear for kids. There's also a company called "Abl Denim," which makes jeans for people with limited mobility. Abl's wheelchair adaptive stretch jean can actually be found on

Adaptive clothing utilizes materials like velcro and magnetic closures, and can also include sleeves and pants with adjustable lengths.

Justin is happy to see this growing trend.

"I feel like it's important to be independent because it means you can rely on yourself."

Fashion experts agree the ultimate goal is increased independence at home, in the workplace, and at school.

"If you can't dress a button down t-shirt or you can't get on your suit in the morning, on your own it takes you 30 minutes--how could you get to work on time," said Jun.

Justin hopes adaptive apparel is just one more way to continue opening doors for the disabled.

"No matter your problem, there's always a creative way to solve that problem."

Designers note that adaptive clothing can be pricey, but they hope that making these styles more mainstream will also help drive down costs.
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