I was first introduced to the world of adaptive clothing at, of all places, the Royal Ontario Museum a few years ago. It was an eye-opening learning into the world of fashion that like many, had not even crossed my mind before that moment in time. Accomplished Canadian designer Izzy Cammelleri had given the design loving world a perspective in fashion that was often overlooked for people who have mobility issues. Her line IZ Adaptive offered more options not just in functionality in design but also in style and with dignity. I had her on my mind recently when we had to adjust to a family member living with dementia. Then, JuneAdaptive.com caught my attention with their recent launch into the space. The site has brought eight fashion brands with a focus on contemporary styles that meet the needs in the adaptive market — whether it’s for people, and their caregivers, with temporary (recovery) wear or long term disabilities or even for those who are frustrated with inaccessible buttons and zippers.
Adaptive clothing is up close and personal for Juneadaptive.com’s founder Wendy Wong. A decade ago, her aunt June became quadriplegic after being involved in a motor vehicle collision. Unfortunately, Wendy was told that her aunt could only wear clothing with specific closures that would allow caregivers to dress her. Despite having a fashion background, Wendy couldn’t find clothes like this that also matched June’s fashion sense. This was an apparel need that the industry had failed to fill adequately at that time.
As life went on, Wendy met her partner whose mother lives with multiple sclerosis. With the same desire to help her in any way possible, she discovered adaptive fashion. But still, the field was relatively new and only a few companies were selling these clothes. In addition, most of the items weren’t easily accessible in Canada due to high shipping costs and limited return policies. Wendy wanted to help bring adaptive fashion to the mainstream and make it more accessible; thus, Juneadaptive.com was born — a one-stop shop of contemporary clothing for people who live with mobility challenges.
We had the chance to chat with Wendy recently to learn more…
Can you tell us about a few design elements that you look for?
Wendy: Most clothes are designed assuming people are abled-bodied. Which unintentionally makes life difficult for people who live with mobility challenges. There are many ways that someone can have restricted movements, you might be recovering from medical treatments, or live with a temporary or long-term disability. Everyone gets dressed and wears clothes. To make it easier for people with disabilities, buttons, closures, and openings need to be adapted.
Perhaps you have limited dexterity and find it difficult to tie shoelaces or buttons on your clothes. A solution to this is to replace the shoelaces with a zipper and use magnetic buttons instead of regular buttons. Expanding on the use of magnets, these have been a great alternative to typical closures. Think of the tiny clasps on jewellery and matching up the bottom of the zipper to zip up a jacket. Adding magnets to closures makes it a lot easier to close.
Some people need help getting dressed. There are tops and bottoms that open up completely at the back so there is no need to lift your arms to get into the shirt, and you can stay seated while you put on pants. Maybe you are pregnant or have a medical condition that makes you lose your balance. Grip socks can help you maintain stability. There are many other ways clothing can be adapted, but these are just a few elements.
Aside from functionality, what else do you consider when you look at the designs?
Wendy: I wanted most styles to look contemporary and universally designed so anyone can wear them no matter if you live with mobility challenges are not. Other than functionality, it’s important that the styles look good and make people feel good.
What are some common requests from your customers?
Wendy: Footwear and Tops have been popular on juneadaptive.com. Many of our customers find it difficult to find shoes that are fashionable and easy to put on. Many of our customers are shopping for a loved one who lives with a disability. They are looking to gift pieces that solve an everyday problem for their family or close friends.
What about price points and what can we expect now?
Wendy: Being disabled can be difficult financially. It was important to me to have accessible price point options at juneadaptive.com. We have adaptive tops that start at $36.98. We also have tops with have higher price points depending on the styling and design features.
With the pandemic, most of us are spending more time at home. For our launch at juneadaptive.com, we focused on casualwear and basics. We wanted to help people find adaptive clothing they can wear every day. As we grow, we hope to add to our assortment based on the styles people are looking for.
What did you start June Adaptive?
Wendy: My journey to start June Adaptive is a very personal one. I have three close family members that live with mobility challenges or disabilities. They include a spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis or dementia. When someone close to you lives with a disability, you want to help in any way you can. I’ve been in the fashion industry most of my career, and at times wish I was in medicine so I can truly help my family. It was difficult to just watch my family members struggle with daily tasks including getting into clothes. Wanting to help and as a professional apparel buyer, I tried to find clothes that made it easier for them to wear. It was difficult to find these items that fit their needs until I discovered Adaptive Fashion.
Living with a disability is challenging enough, and I wanted to be able to help others find clothing options that make it a little easier with Adaptive Fashion. I found pieces that helped the people in my life and I hope I can help others too. That is why I started June Adaptive.
Juneadaptive.com categorizes its products into 4 categories: Easy Dressing, Assisted Dressing, Seated Fashion and Recoverwear. Available for men, women and kids.
Wendy also recognizes that buying clothing online can make it hard to determine fit and functionality. If your first purchase doesn’t feel right, they will provide a free shipping label on request for returns. They want to make sure people love the pieces they find here..and they do! Just read the customer reviews.
To learn more, please visit www.juneadaptive.com