Challenging the fashion industry on inclusivity and representation with Fashion Open Studio and adaptive clothing start-up [RESET]

By Tamsin Blanchard

4 weeks ago

Fashion Open Studio is the Fashion Revolution initiative that engages with designers and practitioners who are actively challenging the status quo of the fashion industry, redesigning supply chains, business models, and the way clothes are made, remade, and unmade. Its purpose is also to highlight the small, the independent, the uncelebrated and unheard voices of the fashion design community. That is why, with the help of the Mayor of London’s Fashion Showcasing Fund, Fashion Open Studio was excited to support emerging adaptive fashion brand [RESET] with the launch of their debut collection during London Fashion Week in February. 

[RESET] was launched in 2020 by LCF graduate Monika Dugar and her sister Usha Baid. Dugar was inspired by the concept of Visual Control of Locomotion in Parkinson’s disease. “We became involved in researching the condition after our father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago,” says Monika. “The hand tremors, stiffness and slow movement associated with Parkinson’s disease made the dressing routine pesky and difficult for him.”

Since graduating, Monika has been creating an adaptive brand with her distinctive prints and innovative solutions for people with varying abilities and needs. It was important to Monika to show the collection in the context of London Fashion Week. She said: “Designing for differently abled people is not a trend, it’s a necessity. ”

“Balancing fashion through functional clothing will empower people and advocate for inclusiveness – that’s the aim.”

To support [RESET] in their debut collection, Fashion Open Studio offered some creative direction for the brand’s lookbook. Fashion Revolution’s designer, Maria Maleh photographed some of the collection’s key pieces on poet and songwriter Miss Jacqui; producer and presenter, Moeed Majeed; dancer, Kat Hawkins; comedian and founder of tech platform More Human, Emma Lawton, and Candoco dancer Joel Brown. We wanted to find out a bit more about their personal style, and how the fashion industry needs to change to embrace the needs of people with disabilities.

“The vision is to make an impact for the differently-abled by being creative and focus on accessibility,” says Monika. “[R E S E T] sits at the niche of the transformation of fashion in an ageing generation and disabled. The current landscape is changing and becoming more inclusive. There are still gaps in the industry as this Adaptive clothing market has been underserved by mainstream brands and media.” There is much work to be done, but we hope the conversation is opening up, and brands like [RESET] can really make a difference in challenging the idea of who fashion is for and who is represented, not just in terms of sizing, fit and practicalities but in terms of media, imagery and the physical experience of navigating around a high street. 

Monika and Usha, talked about their research and the world of adaptive clothing, alongside muse Emma Lawton, Aja Barber, writer and campaigner and Samanta Bullock inclusion campaigner and CEO of retail platform Imperfection. You can watch it here:

To better understand the needs of the people we cast for the [RESET] look book we asked a few questions…

Jacqui Adeniji-Williams

@iammissjacqui

Hello, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you?

My artist name is Miss Jacqui, I’m a poet/spoken word artist and songwriter.

How do you describe your style?

My style is comfy and simple.

Do you have a favourite piece of clothing?

My favourite piece of clothing is a black hoodie cause it’s comfy and simple and you can style it however you want.

What are the main challenges when shopping for clothes and getting dressed in the morning?

When shopping for clothes my biggest challenge is finding clothes that look just as good sitting down – everything seems to be style for non-disabled bodies. On top of some buttons are way too small for me to work probably why I love hoodies.

Are there any brands or platforms you can recommend?

I don’t but I will say when you find clothes you like, that fit well, you will always go back.

What did you think of your outfit by Reset? 

I loved my outfit, the colours were great and the top had magnets so goodbye fiddly buttons, the bottoms where super easy to put on and take of as a wheelchair user. Both items had pockets that I could use.

How would you like the fashion and retail industry to change with your needs in mind?

Not all bodies are the same, for me I’d love to work with a designer to design my perfect outfit. I want to challenge the industry to think and explore how to do better for everyone and the environment.

 

Moeed Majeed

@moeedmajeed

Moeed Majeed wears a shirt and trousers by [Reset]

Hello, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you?

Hi yo, I’m Moeed Majeed, a podcast producer and tv/radio presenter. Started the South Asian Creatives movement too 🙂 And I live with a Stoma bag due to crohns disease.

How do you describe your style?

Comfort over everything! Since my surgery I’ve adapted into a more oversized style. Anything colorful or patterned. I love me a trackie too 🙂

Do you have a favourite piece of clothing?

I like all my clothes, My Patta tracksuit is my go to thing to wear for sure.

What are the main challenges when shopping for clothes and getting dressed in the morning?

I don’t really face many challenges as I know what I like. However finding things that are comfortable around the waist is probably the thing I have to be most wary of. I’ve developed knowledge of what suits me and I have a few brands I tend to stick to.

Are there any brands or platforms you can recommend?

Unhidden clothing is great for adaptive wear. Other than that I stick to street style brands to be honest. I like the leather jackets from buckle and thread too. 

What did you think of your outfit by Reset?

It fitted nicely, I never thought it would be something i’d wear on a day to day but it grew on me for sure. 

How would you like the fashion and retail industry to change with your needs in mind?

Have more open discourse regarding what people actually need rather than massprudcing one size for all. On top of that, actually care about people’s needs rather than jumping onto trends to maximise profits. 

 

Emma Lawton

@ems_lawton

Emma Lawton wears a blue print dress by [Reset] with her own red tights

Hello, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you?

I’m Emma, I’m 37 and I live in London. I’m one of the founders of tech startup More Human, a blogger, author, speaker and stand up comedian. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 7 years ago when I was 29.

How do you describe your style?

I would say my style is fun, eye-catching and eclectic while being comfortable. I love mixing brights with greys, sparkle with mattes, vintage with modern and try to wear something vibrant coloured, bold print or sequin in my outfit every day. I really enjoy planning and playing with outfits and items from my big collection of fancy dress and stage attire for my comedy often end up in my everyday looks. Even though my style is eclectic I think it’s quite distinct and most of my friends and family could identify it well enough to shop for me.

Do you have a favourite piece of clothing?

It’s really hard to decide because it regularly changes but at the moment I’d say for clothing my floor length green sequin full skirt and for shoes; my vintage pointed toe white leather basketball booties with bright coloured tassels on the side and Aztec pattern stitching on the foot. Mainly because they’re both quirky and make me smile when I’m wearing them.

What are the main challenges when shopping for clothes and getting dressed in the morning?

I mainly buy clothes online because it’s easier than dragging myself around the shops and there’s more choice. It is a lot harder though to work out whether an item will be easy to put on and wear without trying it on. I don’t have too much difficulty dressing unless there are really fiddly buttons but I know things will get harder so I’m mindful of this when picking clothes that I plan on keeping long-term.

Are there any brands or platforms you can recommend?

I really like an ASOS marketplace collection called Yapp-Yapp for their range of easy to wear co-ord tops and trousers in a whole load of different fabrics. They feel stylish but comfortable. The RESET collection will easily become a favourite as it has the same feel and I love the drape of the fabrics and the little flashes of pattern which elevate the look.

What did you think of your outfit by Reset?

I love Monika’s designs because they’re practical and fun. I felt very comfortable wearing them and the colours and fabrics are beautiful. She’s really thought about the wearability and has a great eye for detail.

How would you like the fashion and retail industry to change with your needs in mind?

I think an understanding of the fact that many people with disabilities will be shopping online and a move to descriptions or video of fastenings etc being added to listings would be really helpful. Other than that I would say greater representation of physical difference in models across the industry and in mainstream brands so their clothing feels like I could wear it. That would help my confidence in making purchases that I know I won’t have to return.

 

Kat Hawks

@kats.bailed

Kat Hawks wears her own top and a skirt with a print by [RESET]

Hello, who are you and what do you do?

Hi, I’m Kat, and I’m a dance artist, filmmaker and PhD researcher. I like bodies, movement, dance and seeing disabled people have everything they need to take risks. 

How do you describe your style?

Ever-changing, ever-evolving, feeling based, and lots of textures. 

Do you have a favourite piece of clothing? 

At the moment it’s a cosy crocheted hoody that my friend @sewchanti made for me so I can be the bear I am.

What are the main challenges when shopping for clothes and getting dressed in the morning? 

Shopping for clothes is hard. In pre-covid times the changing rooms were a main challenge, hardly ever having seats to sit down, so I’ve returned a lot of stuff. Not knowing whether a material will allow me to move in my prosthetics freely is a challenge, as well as how an item will fit over my legs. In the morning unless I have a lot of time this means I tend to go for ‘staples’, loose clothes, trackies, which isn’t always how I feel I want to dress for that day. 

Are there any brands or platforms you can recommend? 

@Sewchanti

What did you think of your outfit by Reset?

I loved the skirt, the material was really thick and beautiful, and the velcro made it easy to put on and take off. It hung really nicely so I wasn’t aware of it as I walked, and it didn’t get caught in my prosthetics at all.

How would you like the fashion and retail industry to change with your needs in mind? 

The fashion and retail industry should be much more accessible, both in accessibility in stores, on websites, the products they make, and the bodies they use to sell products. They should consult with disabled people to find out what works and what doesn’t, and place disabled people in the creation processes. Disabled people make every industry richer and more creative places, where we can dream new ways of being, and for me that’s what fashion is.

 

Joel Brown

@Joelbrowndancer

Joel Brown

Hello, who are you and what do you do?

I’m Joel, and I’m a professional dancer with Candoco Dance Company. I moved to London from the USA 6 years ago. Along with dance I’m also a singer/songwriter. 

How do you describe your style?
I’m pretty simple. I like boots, jeans and button-up shirts. 

Do you have a favourite piece of clothing?
Apart from all my woolies, I have an L.L. Bean cotton shirt that I love. Simple, but so good!

How would you like the fashion and retail industry to change with your needs in mind?
I think jeans/trousers made for sitting would be great. Basically longer leg, higher back.

Check out the upcoming events at fashionopenstudio.com/events