"Disability fashion and the desire to look good are interwoven..."
Looking at the Future of Functional Fashion for Every Body
The Seams, an independent podcast and occasional story series for NPR, explores the business of fashion for the disabled in its newest story, set to air Saturday, July 25, on NPR's Weekend Edition with Scott Simon.
Signed into law on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has vastly improved the lives of the 60 million Americans who live with a permanent disability by mandating better access in housing, transportation and workplaces. But clothing for the disabled has not kept pace.
For its latest story, The Seams talked to aspiring designers from Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology, both in New York City, about how they are working to design and produce fashions tailored specifically to the needs of the disabled.The Seams also interviewed potential customers for these designers, like Air Force veteran Anna Smith. Smith, who uses a wheelchair and a cane, expressed frustration about the lack of practical, stylish clothing, observing, "We get ponchos that make us look like umbrellas, not styles that are unique and interesting."
Another advocate, 33-year-old Liz Jackson, calls herself and her blog The Girl With the Purple Cane . She lobbies mainstream retailers like J.Crew to better cater to disabled customers.
"From the beginning, The Seams has wanted to look at clothing inclusively," says Lyden. "Our motto is 'Clothing is our common thread. In every stitch, a story.' Disability fashion and the desire to look good are interwoven. What we found with the veterans is they want to look polished and current, to wear flattering clothes that work for them and their lives."
The Seams series on NPR was started in 2014 by former NPR correspondent and host Jacki Lyden, who looks at fashion as culture, politics, business, entertainment and history.
The Seams is also a biweekly podcast, and a more in-depth look at disability and fashion will run on podcast, available on July 26 from iTunes: apple.co/1Krlmvs.
Find out more about The Seams at www.theseams.org