Fashion designer Victoria Jenkins unveiled stylish and practical clothes made for people with disabilities on the runway at London Fashion Week on Friday, in a collection intended to address a gap in the market.
The “Unhidden: A New Era in Fashion” event saw around 30 models who all live with a disability, chronic condition or visible difference model floaty dresses with easy access around the waist as well as colourful chiffon tie shirts with adjustable sleeves at footwear brand Kurt Geiger’s showroom.
“Unhidden is an adaptive fashion brand… primarily targeted at inclusion within fashion of people with disabilities,” Jenkins told Reuters.
Jenkins, who has reduced mobility, first discovered a gap in the market for clothes designed with all bodies in mind in 2016 during a hospital stay when another patient raised it.
Surprised that only a few brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, offer such fashion for all, she decided to use her previous experience as a garment technologist to set up her own brand.
“When I had this idea, it was like a light bulb and just everything changed,”she said.
“It helps me personally… but also I see the impact around me of people being able to dress how they need to.”
Jenkins demonstrated a royal blue shirt with pop snaps that open and close easily, as people who have had strokes can struggle with buttons.
“It also has openings all down the arm,” she said, so that anyone going through treatment “can access their arm without taking any clothes off. It’s about dignity.”
Model and content creator Jessica Ping-Wild, who uses a prosthetic leg and struggles to find suitable trousers, said a brand like Unhidden makes all the difference.
“A designer taking into consideration the fact that bodies are different… it’s almost breaking that mould of beauty that has been so ingrained in society for centuries,” she said.
Jenkins’ collection also includes shirts with longer backs for wheelchair users as well as tailor made suits. She hopes her clothes become even more readily available in the future.
“Diversity without disability isn’t diversity … it feels like it’s the last taboo. People are still scared of the D word. You know, disabled is not a bad word,” she said.
- Reporting by Sarah Mills; Editing by Alexandra Hudson, of Reuters.