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What is Adaptive Fashion?

9th January 2023

I have known Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM for around 12 months now. For him, moving around in a traditional suit in a wheelchair is not a simple feat. This is why I recently sat down with him to speak about adaptive fashion, and why brands such as my own label Wil Valor should co-design alongside people with disabilities.

Watch the Video here.

We speak about the need for adaptive clothing, which refers to clothing and apparel that is suitable for individuals with physical or sensory disabilities. Dinesh brought to my attention that 1 in 5 Australians have a disability of some sort, and may have difficulty dressing or experience severe discomfort and inconvenience wearing standard clothing.

Inclusive and representative models are certainly making their mark in fashion advertising and media, including at Australian Fashion Week last year. The Adaptive Clothing Collective runway exhibited inclusive pieces for those with disabilities, as well as 10 models with disabilities. 
When I visited Dinesh at the Gold Coast to help fit his latest suit, we had the more typical modifications to think about such as making the waistband of the pants elasticated and adding Velcro where there may normally be buttons. The structure of a traditional suit jacket really hasn't changed much in a very long time. This is why, looking at Dinesh's jacket, functional considerations needed to be discussed. How we could ensure the sleeves weren't going to get caught in a wheel? How can we ensure he is able to move easily in and out of the car? 
Dinesh's suit shows that comfort and functionality need not come at the expense of style and feeling good, and I want to thank him for coming into the showroom to speak about this important topic.

- Mark Ferguson, Director of Wil Valor 

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