Everyday clothing can inadvertently exclude a significant portion of society which includes people with disabilities. Enter adaptive clothing—a beacon of hope in the world of fashion, striving to bridge this gap
New Delhi: Clothing is a powerful tool in defining a person. Clothes should bring comfort, confidence, dignity and not be yet another barrier to accessibility. Simple actions like buttoning a shirt might appear routine to many, but for people with disabilities, it can become yet another daily reminder of inaccessibility. Kolkata-based Soumita Basu is very aware of this challenge. Diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at the age of 28 which affected her body muscles, Ms Basu’s condition made the simple act of sliding clothes on and off quite challenging for her. Out of her personal struggle of dressing herself, Zyenika Fashions, an adaptive and inclusive clothing brand for people with disabilities, was born.
Soumita Basu, Founder & CEO, Zyenika Inclusive Fashion said,
“We have such clothes that a caregiver can help a person wear them without having to move any part of her hand or anything. She can just sit, and it just opens up and the caregiver you know, just wraps it around. That’s as simple as that. We have show buttons where we hide velcros or magnets under it; so, it just opens and closes like that. Zips are there, with just one finger you can take it up and down. There are flap openings, for men, particularly elderly men. I make sure that my pockets are in such a place that you can access them while sitting or standing.”
Ms Basu and her mother Amita’s work is often showcased in various exhibitions. Soumita Das explained the mantra of her brand, saying,
“Your clothes are meant to fit you; you are not meant to fit your clothes.”
The collected designs of Anita Iyer Narayan, a disability rights advocate, and the founder of the NGO Ekansh Trust, are available online. Her unique online catalogue features 15 designs of functional adaptive clothing chosen from a pool of 52 submissions by fashion design students from across the country. Anita Iyer Narayan, Founder Ekansh Trust, NGO said,
“These are very simple solutions. If a caregiver is taking care of you, we can have the buttons at the back so that you don’t feel embarrassed about somebody dressing you up. So, the zipper could be on the side so that everybody’s dignity is respected, if I can put it that way. So that is what our catalogue intends to do, to give the choice back to the person with disability and the caregiver and they can have it tailored anywhere.”
While some designers create a clothing line exclusively for people with disabilities, designer Anju Modi works with each client individually to create clothes meant only for them, tailoring to individual needs and preferences.
And every year, she and some of India’s other top designers participate in this fashion show, organised by the Fashion Design Council of India, in collaboration with the Tamana School. Its purpose is to raise awareness around a more inclusive approach to fashion.
Anju Modi, Fashion Designer said,
“I have been involved with Tamana (Education Centre) since the last 7-8 years. Every year, we present a collection and every year we are associated with one special child, and we make clothing for that person. These initiatives should be brought into the limelight more often so that more people get involved.”
Adaptive clothing represents more than just a fashion trend; it embodies a transformative shift towards inclusivity and empowerment. As designers, advocates, and consumers unite in championing this cause, the hope is that the future of fashion will be more diverse and accessible.
Samarth by Hyundai in partnership with NDTV, is an initiative that seeks to promote inclusivity, change perceptions, and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities.