Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
This story originally appeared in Racked’s daily newsletter. Want more news from Racked? Sign up for our newsletter here.
Can you name any big-name designers — the kind who stage blowout runway shows, invest deeply in celebrity marketing, and make huge ad buys — that sell clothing created specifically for men and women with disabilities? Didn’t think so. Starting tomorrow, Tommy Hilfiger will.
After releasing multiple adaptive clothing collections for children last year, the brand is adding a range for adults: 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles with modifications like Velcro closures, magnetic flies, and adjusted leg openings to make it easier for people of all abilities to get dressed. From the photos we’ve seen, the line is typically Tommy in its dedication to denim, stripes, and a navy, red, and white color palette.
Van Heusen, which is owned by the same parent company as Tommy Hilfiger, currently sells button-downs that are fastened by magnets — the product of a partnership with adaptive shirting brand MagnaReady. For its first adaptive children’s collection, Tommy Hilfiger collaborated with MagnaReady and Runway of Dreams, a nonprofit that works to broaden clothing options for people with disabilities. (A rep for Tommy Hilfiger says the brand didn’t work with any external organizations to create its adult collection.)
Runway of Dreams, which has held adaptive fashion shows, was founded in 2014, the same year that MIT and Parsons launched the Open Style Lab, a program for developing accessible clothing. In 2015, Nike released a sneaker featuring a zippered, wraparound closure that was engineered with the disabled community in mind, and Parsons graduate Lucy Jones grabbed headlines for her student collection designed for people who use wheelchairs, winning attention from the fashion industry at large. That year, model Jillian Mercado, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, signed to IMG Models — one of the biggest and most powerful agencies in fashion.
Despite this progress, and despite a widespread call for greater inclusiveness of size, race, and gender in fashion, diversity of ability tends to be forgotten when it comes to casting models and designing clothing. Tommy Hilfiger is smart enough to recognize the opportunity to make its clothing available to a wider range of people. And if it’s really smart, it will be listening closely to feedback from customers tomorrow.