This year’s Adaptive Fashion Show at AAFW saw two fashion labels, JAM the Label and Christina Stephens showing off their latest pieces, as models in wheelchairs, models using assistive walking devices and models with prosthetics took to the catwalk wearing the designs.
Thursday morning’s show received a standing ovation for the models and for the designers, in recognition of how this area of fashion has been ignored on runways, by labels and by major department stores for too long.
JAM was founded in 2019 by Emma Clegg and Molly Rogers, two Occupational Therapists and Disability Support Workers who wanted to create an inclusive fashion label designed for people with disability.
Their pieces aim to make the task of dressing easier for people with physical disabilities while allowing them to practice independence and self-expression.
“It’s really important that everyone can be in fashion,” another model said, walking the catwalk in a forest green trench coat emblazoned on the back with bold font: “FIX THE SYSTEM, NOT ME. ”Disabled people deserve to have cool outfits, that make them feel sexy and safe at the same time.”
Christina Stephens’ founder Jessie Sadler launched her label in March 2020, with the aim of designing clothes for individuals with a physical or sensory or mental disability where there is a specific functionality that’s required in the garment.
Both labels seek to promote self-expression, independence and dignity by focusing on stylish, inclusive fashion opportunities for everyone, no matter the status of their physical bodies.
At the end of the show, Jessie Sadler made an appearance alongside her co-designer Carol Taylor, waving at the crowd who gave the designers and models an emotional standing ovation.
Looking around, I saw glazed eyes and people wiping tears from their faces. It was an incredible, inspiring, wholesome showcase for what the world of fashion can look like — one which includes every body.