Designing Adaptive Apparel: The Road Bumps

On the Liberare blog we’ve started sharing with you all a little sneak peek of behind the scenes of the design process for the newest line at Liberare. Before we began designing this line, we had no idea what we were in for. My name is Anastasia, and I work on the product team at Liberare as well as managing the blog and a few other things! However, the most fun of my job responsibility is definitely helping design the new line with the product development team and getting to see the design happen from start to finish. Being a part of the design process has been amazing and I can't wait to see you in our brand new pieces!

We have team members that have worked with producing fashion lines in many ways, however we never could have prepared ourselves for what it would be like to design an adaptive fashion line, especially adaptive bras and underwear. Adaptive lingerie is something that is unlike anything else to design, because although adaptive clothing has come into the forefront of the industry, adaptive underwear and bras have been largely ignored. However, they’re also some of the most inaccessible pieces for someone with a disability to put on. So today we’re going to talk a little bit about some road bumps that we have hit throughout the process of designing the perfect adaptive clothing for you to wear and get you excited for the amazing adaptive pieces that are about to come.

If you haven’t seen our first blog post about the ideas for this line and the inspiration for it, make sure to go back and read our most recent blog post on that here!

When the Liberare team began designing this first collection, it started with rough sketches by our CEO Emma. Emma majored in art in college so she knows what looks beautiful, but the actual construction of it is where our amazing apparel designer Maddie came in. She took Emma’s ideas and turned them into real tangible pieces. This also required all of us working as a team to rethink what adaptive clothing is and how it caters to people with disabilities. This is another lesson we discovered: Adaptive clothing design is not a one-person job. While many clothing companies have one or just a few designers making the concept and designing the pieces, adaptive clothing requires a lot of opinions and a lot of perspectives to make the best clothing possible. By putting our minds together we were able to dream up amazing adaptive pieces that we’d never seen before, however this wasn’t the end of the process.

Maddie drew more concrete sketches that showed the details of the pieces, and turned them into professional looking tech packs to be sent off to manufacturers! However, this was the easy part. The difficult part of adaptive apparel is making it functional and ensuring that it’s executed correctly. The new line incorporates many different kinds of adaptive closures which require perfection in every piece! When we decided on the adaptive closures we had to reach out to many disabled women with all different disabilities and ask them about their needs and what the preferred. I have to say, this was probably my personal favorite part! Getting to talk to disabled women and listen to their stories and their struggles with finding clothing was so interesting and fun. Whenever we chose magnets we had to make sure we could measure the strength of each of them, which meant going through every website we could find to get the perfect closures. Working with businesses from small to large was incredibly difficult but an awesome learning experience for us, and we met so many people that share our passion for adaptive fashion.