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Stylist’s Cur8able Takes Adaptive Fashion for People With Disabilities Mainstream

What happened: Stylist Stephanie Thomas is changing the game for people who live with disabilities when it comes to specially curated looks. Thomas founded Cur8able to empower people with disabilities to dress with dignity and independence and educate the fashion industry on how to meet the fashion needs of people with disabilities. She began styling fashion for the disability community while participating in the Miss America Preliminary Pageant where she took it on as a community service project. Thomas herself has what doctors have described as a “non-severe” disability — the stylist was born without toes and had the digits surgically created as an infant. In 2004, she created the Disability Styling System, which she uses to style adaptive clothing and consult with other brands to include the disability community in products and marketing.

You have more clothing for pets than you do for disabled people in stores. It’s not market representation in the numbers, it’s the value. We see more value in a poodle, in a Labrador, in whatever…than we do in a fashion customer with a disability. — Stephanie Thomas, URevolution

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Image Description Below. • Talk 30 to Me, the Royal Way ???? I take birthdays serious being that I wasn’t expected to make it past my first week of life. To make it to 30 is a pretty big deal. God is! He continues to do great work through me. Photos: @jvinson422 / @_theoptics Makeup: @j.steele_artistry Styled by: @just.b3_ #BirthdayGirl #LivingOnPurpose #Year30 #Glam #3Decades #GodsCreation #Celebrate #LoveYours #GrownWoman #ChangingTheNarrative #MelaninMagic #KShantel Image Description: Slightly blurred background outdoors on a street with buildings and what appears to be an alley way. Black woman with dark brown hair at the roots and lavender tips. Her hair is combed to the the right side exposing a diamond earring and a small diamond stud in her left ear. She's wear a burnt orange wrap dress with short cap sleeve with ruching detail at the shoulder. She's sitting on the edge of a wheelchair with her right leg extended off the chair and her left hand touching the knee of her right leg while her right hand rests on her chair.

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The Frontlines: In the United States, about 26% of people are living with a disability. Despite this percentage, the concept of adaptive fashion is relatively new.

  • From tag-less clothing options to universal design zippers on shoes, adaptive options make clothing more functional and comfortable
  • Brands such as Zappos, Tommy Hilfiger, Kohl’s and Target have added adaptive options to their clothing lines in the last five years
  • According to the Business of Fashion, people with disabilities across the world amount to a spending power of $1.2 trillion per year, a figure that grows to $6.9 trillion when including families, parents and caregivers of people with disabilities.

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Meara O’Space further explained the crucial need for more inclusion within the fashion industry saying, “Many chronically ill and disabled women wish to maintain who they feel they truly are after their diagnosis, and this involves embracing their new identities in a more stylish way, such as giving their mobility aid a name [or] adapting their wardrobe in a way that makes them feel empowered.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

From Our Community:

Che Bella 2020

Other things to know: Contributors on The Mighty are talking about fighting ableism within the fashion industry and how you can take part:

How to take action: You can learn more about Thomas by reading her bio and visiting Cur8able’s website.

Article updated July 30, 2020.

Header image via Stephanie Thomas/Instagram