There is a shortage of accessible, fashionable clothing for people with disabilities. Now one initiative aims to change that.
The Cerebral Palsy Foundation is launching a new web series for a market that has traditionally been underrepresented in fashion: people with disabilities. Design for Disability was created to challenge perceptions and increase public awareness about the need to include people with disabilities in the fashion and design industries.
The Cerebral Palsy Foundation partnered with renowned fashion designer Derek Lam and six young designers from Parsons, Pratt and FIT to create the accessible outfits featured in the six-part series. The designers worked with models who have CP and other disabilities to make the clothes both fashionable and functional. Many found the experience illuminating. Lam told The Mighty:
I hadn’t previously spent much time around people with disabilities and so I wasn’t aware of how poorly served they were by the world of fashion, nor could I really understand the full dimension of their needs. Coming face-to-face with that reality, and getting to spend time with the individuals who persevere so optimistically amid challenges which are quite striking… it’s a real wake-up call.
Design for Disability culminated with a gala event in New York City on May 16, where the designers and models gathered in front of industry leaders to showcase the outfits they created. Lam praised their work, explaining, “All the designers found truly interesting insights, often innovative technical approaches to solving issues around accessibility.”
The gala also honored other designers and creators promoting inclusion. Scott Silveri, Executive Producer and Creator of ABC’s “Speechless,” accepted the Goldenson-Arbus Vanguard Media Award. Microsoft was honored for their commitment to accessibility and inclusion with the Global Empowerment Award. Nike received the Fashion Innovation Award for their FlyEase shoe. “Speechless” stars Micah Fowler and Minnie Driver were also in attendance.