A 2019 research study by Procter & Gamble found that only 4% of fashion and beauty companies create services and products that cater to the needs of people living with disabilities, according to a report on InStyle. For decades, fashion brands have overlooked the overall representation of individuals living with physical disabilities.
However, in recent years, some beauty and fashion brands have started embracing inclusivity. For example, Gucci Beauty has been featuring Ellie Goldstein, a disabled model as the face of major campaigns, while L’Oreal has ensured that staff with disabilities account for 2% of their entire workforce.
Sadly, these efforts are not enough to ensure people with disabilities are well represented in the fashion industry. To ensure mainstream fashion represents everyone with a disability, brands should focus on inclusion whether they’re creating different types of eyeliners, cloth designs, or universal product packaging.
Read on to understand how fashion brands can represent the needs of people with disabilities.
Knowledge Is Key
Understanding the different disabilities people live with and the challenges they face is the first step fashion brands, investors, and retailers should take to make meaningful or significant change in the industry. This step entails connecting with people with physical disabilities and organizations that represent them to help nurture awareness.
For instance, clothing lines targeting people with cerebral palsy should be able to define what is cerebral palsy and highlight the fashion obstacles these demographic faces.
Since cerebral palsy affects one’s ability to control their muscles, those diagnosed with CP must use crutches or a wheelchair for mobility.
In most cases, these individuals have a difficult time finding comfortable clothes they can wear without depending on others to dress or undress them because most fashion and beauty trends focus on those without disabilities.
With that said, brands within the fashion industry should use their power to push designers to discuss disability and focus on designing adaptive clothes.
Involve Target Audience in Fashion Conversations
Consulting target consumers from the beginning is crucial for fashion brands looking to boost inclusion in their product designs. When brands engage people with disabilities, they foster a safe space for asking questions and sharing opinions, thus encouraging honest conversations.
Brands also get a better understanding of what people with disabilities need to enhance the quality of life and boost self-esteem.
So, if you own a fashion business and plan to design adaptive clothing, go out and consult target consumers living with disabilities to ensure your brand is consumer-centric and inclusive.
Understand it’s Not About Diversity, but Inclusion
Creating visibility of disabilities in brand marketing is appealing, but it’s not enough. Entrepreneurs in the fashion industry should include this demographic in many ways.
Brands should understand that individuals with a disability don’t want different clothing but what everyone else is wearing. So, a few modifications to existing designs can make clothes more adaptive
For instance, designers can add magnetic closures to button-down shirts and leave the buttons for aesthetic purposes. Fashion retailers should also add adaptations to their brick and mortar stores to accommodate people with different disabilities.
For many years, the fashion and beauty industries have not been representing the needs of people with disabilities. But brands are now embracing disability in their product designs and marketing campaigns.
To ensure inclusivity in fashion and beauty, brands should familiarize with different disabilities, engage individuals with disabilities in fashion discussions, and include this demographic in every aspect of fashion.