Have you ever been on a plane or bus and had to constantly adjust your pants because they were uncomfortable or twisted? Have you had to account for awkward folds in a skirt or had to hide a tag on the back of your shirt? You probably have, but, luckily for you, dealing with these inconveniences simply involves standing up and readjusting a few pieces here and there. At worst, it’s a couple of hours spent in minor discomfort before changing into more appropriate attire.

For people in wheelchairs, though, these minor adjustments are not so easy, and they cannot typically be dealt with in a few seconds, minutes, or even hours. Inconvenient folds or zippers are constant things to deal with while wearing clothes, and they ruin what is an otherwise enjoyable and fun experience.

Image via Royal Ontario Museum.
Image via ROM

Toronto Star reporter Barbara Turnbull faced these problems from the moment she became wheelchair bound in 1983.  She immediately began searching for a comfortable and fashionable option, and she found Canadian fashion designer Izzy Camilleri. For eight years, Camilleri designed clothing for Turnbull, tailoring them to the needs of a person constantly in a sitting position. Camilleri listened, researched, and remembered the complaints and comments brought to her by Turnbull,  ultimately putting together a plan for a company that would design clothes to ease this particular issue for wheelchair-bound people.

After six years, IZ Adaptive Clothing was launched, and a new revolution in fashion had begun. Camilleri made a statement that really captures the purpose and passion behind the daring and needed line:

         “At IZ Adaptive, we take serious pride in our design ingenuity, and we’re seriously passionate about creating clothing for a seated frame with maximum comfort and maximum style. Think cut-lines specific to a seated body shape, structured so they fall and drape naturally and don’t interfere with wheelchair mechanics. Fabrics with stretch that won’t gape, bunch, or add unnecessary bulk. Open-back styles, strategically placed zippers, and magnetic buttons for easier on-and-offs. Whether you’re able to dress independently or require assistance, IZ Adaptive’s designs are tailored to save you effort and time.”

Image via Laughing Squid.
Image via Laughing Squid

As a high-end fashion designer, Camilleri’s pieces tend to run on the pricey side; but, they don’t cost more than garments made for non-wheelchair bound clients, and there is quite the range in price — from blue jeans around $65 to coats and leather pieces priced up to $500.

When you walk into the IZ Adaptive showroom, a number of beautiful pieces stand out, including a shearling cape and a tailored coat. The back of the coat goes down as far as the back of the wearer’s chair, and the sides go as far as the wheelchair sides, but the front goes down as far as the buyer wishes, providing both comfort and functionality.

Besides designing clothes that are simply easy to wear, Camilleri is aware of the need for many to dress professionally in order to compete fairly in a business setting. She has designed a number of pieces for this group of working clientele, allowing them comfort and confidence as they go through their days.

With around 80 different styles of clothing for both men and women, IZ Adaptive is quickly becoming a powerful force in fashion. In Camilleri’s own words, “This is the most important and inspiring work of my career because I’m offering more than just clothes to my clients, I’m offering inclusion and self-esteem.”

Every person deserves to feel attractive, no matter their physical state, and with Camilleri’s work, this privilege is being extended to more and more people, spreading both good fashion and love.

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