Disability in Fashion

I love fashion and enjoy keeping up with the latest trends and like shopping for new clothes. However, I have never really looked up to any disabled person in the fashion industry because I feel like disabled people are unrepresented in that field. When I became a blogger and started reading other people’s blogs, I soon found other disabled people that had an interest in beauty and fashion like me.

A photo of Holly wearing a black dress

According to Livability, there are over 1 billion people living with a disability in the world but yet we are still being left behind in the fashion industry.

In 2017, disabled people were represented at London Fashion Week for the first time ever and also appeared at New York Fashion Week in 2015. Is this enough? Of course it isn’t. A lot more has to be done to make disabled models equal to non-disabled models.

Earlier on this year, River Island included disabled models in their new campaign, but why doesn’t this happen more often in contemporary society? This was such a surprise to many, but surely this should be the norm? We should be encouraging diversity in our much-loved high street brands. We should be encouraging disabled people to have an interest in fashion, not discouraging them just because they have a disability. Disabled people can have an interest in fashion just like non-disabled people. Why are disabled people the most unrepresented group in the fashion industry? Having a disability doesn’t mean that a person doesn’t want to look glamorous and stylish, having a disability doesn’t mean that they can’t feel comfortable doing so, disabled people have the right just like non-disabled people.

People are often surprised that I have an interest in fashion just because I can’t see, but why does my visual impairment stop me from having an interest in fashion in the same way as sighted people? Fashion is for everyone.

A photo of Holly wearing a pink summer dress

Society judges people on what they wear and how they look, what you are wearing has a significant impact on various aspects of your life.

Fashion is everywhere you look: online, on social media, in magazines, on the television… we’re all influenced by fashion.

So why aren’t disabled people represented in the fashion industry?

There are over 1 billion disabled people in the world (around 15 %), so surely, we deserve to be equal to non-disabled people? Disabled people deserve the right to look and feel beautiful, just like non-disabled people. We shouldn’t be an afterthought when it comes to fashion.

Many individuals have created fashion accessories and aids for disabled people. Whilst this is great, it shouldn’t be down to individuals to design and create such products, it should be something that is inclusive and therefore made available in shops. Disability should be represented in our high street stores, disabled people should be able to go and buy the clothes that they want, and not feel restricted to do so because of their disability.

The same goes for online shopping, it should be made accessible for everyone. There are many online retailers that are not accessible, they do not have image descriptions, do not have detailed descriptions of items on their websites or are not accessible with screen-readers. Online magazines/apps are often not accessible either, meaning that disabled people can often not access them. This is one barrier that I face a lot as a person with a visual impairment.

Shops are also often not accessible for disabled people, people in wheelchair’s can not enter the shop because there is no ramp available and cannot navigate them easily, shops often change the layout which makes it harder for many disabled people to navigate and get around independently. If disabled people are unable to enter or navigate shops or access online retailers it essentially predetermines which labels they can and cannot wear, and which high street stores they can and cannot shop in. This is not fair on disabled people at all.

It would be great if more retailers used QR codes on their products in shops so that disabled people can scan products and receive information on them. This would be great for disabled people, especially people like myself with a visual impairment as we could then receive detailed information about the product and decide for ourselves whether we want to buy it or not. I am very lucky that my Mum and other family members know my style so can help me choose new clothes but it would be helpful for me to get a sense of what the product looks like, rather than having them describe it to me and relying on my sense of feel.

A photo of Holly wearing a top and skirt

What I want to see

So, as you can gather, the fashion industry has a long way to go in being inclusive and accessible for all.

I want disabled people to be able to go to a high street store, see clothes that they like and be able to buy them because they represent them and they feel comfortable wearing them, despite their disability.

I want disabled people to be able to shop independently, without worrying whether a store or online site is accessible.

I want to see disability being embraced in the fashion industry, at the end of the day, it isn’t a taboo topic.

I want disabled models to be seen as being equal to non-disabled models, not being seen as “inspirational” just because they are disabled.

I want to see disability and fashion represented as one, not two separate aspects.

I want disabled people to feel included in the fashion industry.

I want the younger generation to see disabled people just like them, working in the fashion industry.

There is a place for everyone in the fashion industry whether that’s as models, photographers, stylists and make-up artists or just having an interest in fashion.

That concludes today’s post, what do you want to see the fashion industry implement for disabled people? Do you think it is inclusive? Let me know in the comments.

Holly x

13 Comments

  1. March 30, 2018 / 7:24 pm

    Execellent article Holly. I’m going to schedule it to share to FB on Monday. You touch on some very important points here. Have a great weekend!!

    • lifeofablindgirl@gmail.com
      Author
      March 30, 2018 / 9:44 pm

      Thank you Steph! Thank you for sharing, it means a lot. Hope you have a great weekend too 🙂

      • March 30, 2018 / 9:45 pm

        I actually went ahead and shared it this afternoon because it gave me an opportunity to give my two cents. This is an issue very close to my heart and I’m so glad to see more of us bringing it into the light.💖

        • lifeofablindgirl@gmail.com
          Author
          March 30, 2018 / 9:54 pm

          Ahh thank you! Mine too, it needs more representation so hopefully by us talking about it it’ll begin to help 💖

          • March 30, 2018 / 10:28 pm

            I think it’s gaining momentum. There are so many of us on Instagram and Twitter and many more of us are “coming out.” There’s strength in numbers and as others see us out here embracing our blindness and all that goes with it, they opt to do so as well.

          • lifeofablindgirl@gmail.com
            Author
            March 31, 2018 / 12:21 am

            It’s amazing how many of us there is. Couldn’t agree more with you!

  2. March 30, 2018 / 8:13 pm

    This is one of my favourite posts of yours, I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Preach it girl! 🙌 xxx

    • lifeofablindgirl@gmail.com
      Author
      March 30, 2018 / 9:44 pm

      Thank you so much hun! 🙌🏻 xxx

  3. April 1, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    Disabled models should be seen as equals. We should have fashion shows for wheelchair users too. Personally I think top models that are rake thin are very unattractive. We need to get rid of discrimination from the fashion world. We have plus size models now, so we should also have disabled models

    • lifeofablindgirl@gmail.com
      Author
      April 1, 2018 / 11:20 pm

      Completely agree with you!

  4. April 4, 2018 / 3:49 pm

    This is such an important thing to write about. Thank you for sharing!!

    • lifeofablindgirl@gmail.com
      Author
      April 4, 2018 / 4:03 pm

      Thank you so much 🙂

Leave a Reply