Fashion Brands Embracing Inclusivity

girl in bright colours holding shopping bags over a brick wall
Hannah Shulman

Hannah Shulman

Many fashion companies are embracing inclusivity as they diversify their clothing options in size, adaptability, and modesty. Beforehand, those who couldn’t find clothing to meet their needs would resort to buying and then tailoring their outfits, costing them more than the average customer. Now, these customers can throw away their tailor’s number and go on a stress free shopping spree.

Inclusivity in Clothes Size

With more than half of women between 18 to 65 wearing size 14 or higher, it is surprising that so few clothing brands offer these sizes. Fashion Designer Christian Siriano recognizes the demand for plus-sized clothing and after extending his line to include these sizes, tripled his business. Some designers feel that the extra fabric necessary for larger sizes should translate to a higher price tag. However, many spectate that future technology will alleviate these costs. For many designers, though, social pressure to include plus sizes outweighs the monetary costs. Brands with a limited range of sizes not only face backlash from plus-sized customers, but other inclusivity advocates as well.

Many celebrity fashion lines include larger sizes. Khloe Kardashian teamed up with Emma Grede, CEO of Good American, to release an inclusive fashion line. The resulting designs made $1 million in sales on the first day. Good American started off selling jeans (sizes 00 to 24) and then expanded to dresses, workout clothes, and even a maternity collection. Kardashian and Grede persuaded retailers to sell all sizes together as opposed to isolating larger sizes in plus-size departments. Greed explained: "In the beginning, retailers would want to carry our product, but only a few sizes rather than the complete range of 00 to 24. There are a lot of costs associated like that bigger sizes take extra fabric. So it’s all about getting more and more partners and people to shift their mindset and, in turn, shift their behavior."

Fashion Brands Embracing Inclusivity

Whoopi Goldberg has also created a fashion line with a vast size range, entitled DUGBEE. After taking a trip to Greece and feeling insecure about her body, Goldberg was inspired to produce loose fitting clothes that flatter all body types. Athlete Serena Williams had the same intention when creating her Twist Front Dress, which she designed for “everybody and every body”.

While most plus-size clothing seeks to hide rolls and bulges, Brazilian fashion designer Karoline Vitto created a collection that enhances these features. Instead of masking these rolls and bulges, Vitto wants to celebrate them: “I wanted to question why we submit ourselves to constant body modifications, or tight lingerie, or why we body shame ourselves so much, when we could see our bodies as something that could be appreciated by its natural texture, form or lines.”

While plus-size and petite customers can find clothes in a size inclusive brand, they can also shop from companies targeted at their size. For example, Petite Studio is a New York womenswear line exclusively for petites. These exclusive stores offer a customized shopping experience that some customers might prefer over inclusive brands.

Size inclusivity is not limited to clothes alone. Footwear brand Jeffrey Campbell designed a capsule collection of “shoes to fit all bodies”. In an Instagram post on this collection, Campbell says the shoes are “made to fit your every curve”.

Inclusivity in Adaptability

Just as plus-size and petite clothing feature in both inclusive and exclusive brands, adaptable clothing sells in both inclusive brands (such as Tommy Hilfiger and Target) and exclusive brands, solely for children with disabilities. Inspired by her legally blind son, Gracie Benedith-Cane founded Braille Code Inc, a company that embeds Braille patches into clothing items to help the vision impaired recognize different parts of their clothes. Socks include patches that differentiate the back from the front, button-down shirts have patches that match button to hole, and shoes sport patches that indicate whether it is the right shoe or left.

Shannon Angersbach saw a need for clothing that accommodates children with feeding tubes and decided to start Greta Grace Garb. Greta Grace Garb ensures accessibility to the feeding tubes without having to cut any holes in the clothing. Talia Goldfarb initially created Myself Belts – belts that can be fastened and unfastened with one hand – for her son who was potty-training. She later realized that these belts could be useful to people with disabilities and now markets them as such.

Fashion Brands Embracing Inclusivity for Adaptability

In partnership with Runway of Dreams, Tommy Hilfiger released a clothing line “more inclusive to children with disabilities” in 2016, and in 2017, added an adult collection. In a press release, the iconic brand said that their mission “is to be inclusive and empower people of all ability to express themselves through fashion”. Tommy Adaptive clothing implements side-seam openings, adjustable hems, magnetic buttons, and velcro to ease the process of getting dressed.

Zappos sells adaptive clothing in the realms of sensory friendly clothing, adaptive jeans, post surgical wear, magnetic closures, wheelchair friendly, and more. In an Instagram post, Zappos advertised magnetic button shirts for children who require uniforms for school. They also sell zippered sneakers.

Target’s Cat & Jack Line for kids is adopting adaptive clothing for children with disabilities. The adaptable shirts, jackets, and sweatshirts include features such as snaps, side-entry openings, and zip-off sleeves. Target also offers clothes for children with sensory issues. In addition to their adaptive childrenswear line, Target sells adaptable halloween costumes. Children can dress up as their favorite Disney princess, animal, or superhero, with the added option of “dressing up the chairs themselves”.

Inclusivity in Modesty

In order to satisfy the niche market of modest fashion, brands such as Banana Republic and H&M offer modest clothing items. Banana Republic sells hijabs, which fall under the “accessories” tag on their website. They’re following the ways of Nike, who created hijabs for Muslim athletes. H&M has their LTD Collection, which includes long-sleeved and long-hemmed clothing.

Beautiful girl with a scarf on blue wall

As more companies release modest wear lines, more customers have vocalized that modest clothing should not exist as a stand-alone market. Rather, modest clothing should be included among their non-modest counterparts. However, other buyers are happy with specified clothing lines, which enable them to quickly access the type of clothes they want with minimal effort. Modest dressers no longer have to scour the racks in hopes of finding a modest outfit.

These inclusive fashion lines reflect a growing propensity for inclusivity in our culture. Since fashion is the forefront of our culture, it makes sense that it’s constantly adapting to expanding societal needs. Thank goodness for that!

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