A fashion house is leading the way in adaptive underwear after its CEO and founder realised the barriers disabled people can face seeing her mother trying to dress herself.
“My mom became disabled about 10 years ago, and for the first time, she couldn’t get her clothing on – especially bras and underwear,” Emma Butler told Vogue in a recent interview. “She previously had a beautiful collection of lingerie but, since her dexterity and mobility completely changed in her 40s, her only lingerie options became medical and quite ugly looking. I watched her confidence plummet.”
At university Butler heard similar stories from disabled people who find it difficult to dress themselves.
“I learned that over 600 million women worldwide have some sort of disability that affects the way they dress,” Butler recalled.
Wanting to make a difference Butler launched Liberate and designed adaptable clothing for women with disabilities.
Its first venture into the fashion industry sees Liberate’s adaptive underwear which not only looks trendy but can also be put on with ease.
The bras come in two ranges, Plunge Barlette and Liberare bra, equipped with front openings and magnetic fastening.
“Hooks and eyes are especially hard for folks with limited dexterity,” explained Butler. “We wanted to do magnets, but realised that the pinching motion of putting magnets together can also be difficult for a lot of folks, so we added loop grips. You can slip a finger in if you have a prosthetic arm, for example, and easily glide the fabric together, where it will stay put.”
The briefs come with a side-opening so wheelchair users or those with limited physical movements can slip them on underneath and fasten on both sides.
“One of our styles is velcro, and the other is magnetic, which allows for adjustability,” Butler told the publication.
Liberare’s underwear is on sale now from the brand’s website, but the plan is to roll the clothes out to the mass market.
“I don’t think we’re going to see any societal or systemic changes in the fashion industry until every brand has an adaptive line in the same way they have maternity and plus-size brands,” Butler said.
“Our entire brand revolves around amplifying disabled voices, but it’s also about easier dressing. I mean, it is 2022 and my mom and other disabled women still have to fumble with hooks and eyes and buttons. We can send a man to the moon, so why has a bra not been redesigned in 100 years?”
The word “liberare” means “to free or liberate” in Latin.
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