Adaptable clothing

Written by Emily Barton, 06 June

A key challenge associated with arthritis and those with restricted movement is getting dressed.

How we look and feel forms part of our identity, but often fiddly buttons and impossible zips mean the clothes someone with arthritis has to choose sometimes aren’t their first choice. This is where adaptable clothing brands come in. These are brands with a mission to make wearing clothes people actually want to wear accessible for all and we have a few below that have really hit the mark.

Tommy Hilfiger are due to launch their Tommy Adaptive range this Summer in the UK. This range looks to feature the same great clothing as the rest of their collections, but with subtle changes that make the clothing accessible. They have focused on easy closures and ease of movement. Think magnetic buttons, one handed zips, stretch fabrics, and adjustable straps, hems and waists. There are also styles that are perfect for wearing if you are using a wheelchair, with open backs and carefully placed seams and zips to avoid digging in.

- Source: Instagram

Then we have Handy Fasteners which was founded by Matt Barrett, Thomas Fantham and Natalie English at university. They were successful through the Design Council’s SPARK programme which was partnered with Arthritis Research UK (Now Versus Arthritis) and have gone on to make their business what it is today. Handy Fasteners have taken a different approach with an aim to support independent living through adapting existing clothing. This is through the design of their magnetic fasteners meaning no need to try and fasten a fiddly button anymore. You can simply post the clothes you already own but find a pain to fasten, and they will retrofit them with magnetic fasteners that look like regular buttons. Now you have the clothes you want to wear now accessible to wear whenever you want.

Finally there is The Able Label which was founded by Katie Ellis after she saw how difficult it was for her Grandmother to get dressed once she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The range takes into account many conditions where mobility is reduced making it perfect if arthritis is affecting you and it is difficult to get dressed. The clothes are specifically designed to make getting dressed easier without compromising on design. For women, the range consists of lovely printed wrap skirts with easy to Velcro fastenings, cleverly designed poncho style knitwear which is great if you struggle with sleeves and simple front opening tops to avoid putting clothes over your head. The men’s range predominantly is focused on plain and check Velcro fastening shirts, clip on ties and nightwear.

If you suffer from arthritis there are options out there so you don’t have to struggle every morning doing up those buttons or feel unable to wear your favourite top. Hopefully this gains awareness and stimulates other brands to start to invest in their own ranges to make clothing accessible for all.

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