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Clothing for People with Down Syndrome by Ashley

  • Published: 2013-09-14 (Rev. 2014-11-10) - Contact: Disabled World at Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Ashley DeRamus launches her own line of clothing specifically developed for people with Down syndrome.

Definition: Adaptive Clothing

Adaptive clothing is defined as clothing specially designed for people with physical disabilities, the elderly, and the infirm who may have difficulty dressing themselves due to an inability to manipulate closures, such as buttons and zippers, or due to a lack of a full range of motion required for self dressing eg. arthritis sufferers, Quadriplegics, and Paraplegics.

Main Document

"Women have the opportunity to get dressed from top to toe in Ashley By Design and look absolutely fabulous."

Clothing fashion designers in America have often times excluded the needs of people who experience forms of disabilities. A market certainly exists for adaptive clothing styles that are fashionable and fits our needs, yet it has only begun to be approached. For some reason, certain fashion clothing designers in this nation persist in the belief that people only fit into clothing of certain sizes or shapes.

People with disabilities like being fashionable as well, and that includes people who experience Down syndrome. Unfortunately, it may be hard for people with Down syndrome to find clothing that is trendy and fits well because the nature of their chromosomal disorder may cause distinctive physical anomalies that are not compatible with clothes that can be purchased, 'off-the-rack.' The result is an entire population that has been forced to pursue tedious searches for clothes that are fashionable.

Women with Down syndrome tend to have shorter legs and torsos and may be medium to heavily-built depending upon their levels of activity and any medications they need to take. The combination may present difficulties in the aisles of department stores where it at times seems like everything fashionable or cute is designed for other women. Purchasing clothing can become a nightmarish process because after paying for clothing it is still necessary to pay for expensive alterations to get the clothing to fit appropriately.

Image of Ashley
Image of Ashley
For Ashley DeRamus, this started to become a very real source of frustration. Ashley is a 30 year old woman who has Down syndrome and loves fashion. She decided to do something about it and started designing her own clothing. Ashley has launched her own line of clothing specifically developed for people with Down syndrome, 'Ashley By Design.'

Ashley's clothes not only look good - they are dynamic and present fashions that are intended to fit well on the body of a woman with Down syndrome. Her cuts are fashion-forward, flattering, as well as fun, from a color-block number to a little black dress. Her clothing includes leggings, something that may be hard to find for people with short legs, as well as accessories such as jewelry. Women have the opportunity to get dressed from top to toe in Ashley By Design and look absolutely fabulous.

Ashley is a sharp and forward-thinking entrepreneur who has tapped into a market that many fashion designers simply will not touch. There is a common assumption that people with disabilities do not care about fashion, or do not need to look good, especially if they have intellectual or cognitive forms of disabilities like Ashley herself. As a result of this assumption, many people with Down syndrome are forced to wear clothes that do not fit appropriately and are uncomfortable, as well as not allowing them to put their fashion sense on display. Ashley proven this assumption to be wrong.

Chart showing attributes of Ashley By Design clothes
Chart showing attributes of Ashley By Design clothes
Through identification of a need, Ashley has captured an important market. She may encourage other designers to think about disabilities and fashion as well as perhaps pursuing the need for clothing for people who use wheelchairs and many times struggle with clothes that are cut for people who spend the majority of their time standing, as well as people with other forms of disabilities. There are millions of people who experience forms of disabilities in America.

The most important message Ashley presents to America and the world is a very clear one. As an active woman with Down syndrome, she has highlighted the fact that people with intellectual disabilities can and do indeed lead rich, full lives when they are empowered and supported. Ashley sails; she zip-lines and much more. She is an outspoken advocate for others and herself. As an entrepreneur, Ashley is flying in the face of what others may believe about Down syndrome; she is not waiting passively by for anything - instead, she started her own business and contributes to society in a very real and meaningful way.

Ashley's clothing illustrates the value of respecting people with Down syndrome and other forms of intellectual disabilities. They highlight another important thing as well - this is what happens when society pursues integration instead of just tolerance of people with disabilities. Ashley's self-confidence and her confidence in her clothing come in part from the work of decades of disability rights activists fighting for equal treatment and respect from society as a whole. Of herself Ashely states:

"Hi, my name is Ashley Deramus and I have Down Syndrome. This has never really been a problem for me because I have had so many friends and activities all my life I don't feel like I've missed out on anything other kids have had. (Except I would love to drive a car!) I wrecked a 4-wheeler into a tree though and decided that a car probably was not a good idea!) I do wish I could go places and do things on my own but my mom, dad and friends are always around to take me places. My favorite thing to do is go to gospel concerts, listen to gospel music, play my keyboard and sing."

Personally, I find Ashley's accomplishments to be far more impressive than those of much larger clothing designers with bigger names in the fashion industry. Not only has Ashley pursued a needed clothing market, she has done so while showing other people with disabilities they can succeed as an entrepreneur. Way to go Ashley!

Ashley by design

When I first met Ashley at 7:29 AM on December 9, l982, she was given an Apgar score of 10 (almost unheard of!) and declared "perfect." Eighteen years of premonition went out the window. Really, nothing was wrong with my Ashley? It was the happiest day of my life. Twelve hours later at 7:30 PM, her pediatrician came in my room and told us they suspected she had Down Syndrome and had already taken her blood for the genetic profiling. We'd have the results in about 3 weeks.


  1. Mike Selvon (Jan 28, 2009). Down Syndrome Awareness
  2. Wendy Taormina-Weiss (Jan 14, 2012). Down Syndrome Education Website
  3. Disabled World (Jan 13, 2009). Adaptive Clothing - Information and Availability


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