Fashion and Assistive Technology might seem like a bizarre intersection, but for most people with disabilities, it makes complete sense.
Adaptive clothing can help people with a variety of disabilities manage their clothing independently throughout the entire day. Just as there is a myriad of disabilities, there is also a myriad of adaptive clothing needs. You might need clothing that is easier to put on in a sitting position, that can accommodate limb difference, allow for medical device access, doesn’t require fine motor skills to interact with or offers smaller size options for adult styles of clothing. On top of these need related differences, the number of considerations increase exponentially when choice of adaptation comes into play like: magnetic vs Velcro closures; back, side and hidden access openings; designs that are toileting-friendly; provide seated comfort; offer step-in options; grant easy access points; or soft/sensory-friendly material types. All of this comes into play, many times, before the user’s sense of taste is even brought into the picture. That is why Where It’s AT is here with a current set of adaptive clothing options and vendors. That way, your clothes are not only functional for your needs, but are also the form of self-expression they should be.
- Zappos has a fantastic variety of adaptive shoes, specifically carrying adaptive brands. They carry wide options, adaptive sandals, single and different size shoes, . They also have helpful resources like videos showing how to measure a prosthesis and how to measure your feet. Zappos is so dedicated to providing adaptive shoes that they collaborated with Reebok to create the Reebok Fit to Fit collection and Ugg to create the Ugg Universal Collection.
- Nike has a fantastic line of shoes called the FlyEase. With the FlyEase, anyone can have a no-hands, step in experience, including kids. Nike also has developed some awesomely futuristic technology with their HyperAdapt line, but at the only place we could find selling them, the price on these amazing self-lacing shoes is likely out of most people’s budgets, coming in at several thousand dollars a pair!
- The aptly named brand, Anodyne, sells shoes, slippers and socks designed to provide relief and support to diabetics. Unfortunately, they do not have smaller sizes, but for the sizes they do have, their selection is remarkable. From hiking boots to slipper and from casual sneakers to Mary Janes and oxfords, Anodyne has your feet covered.
- Speaking of shoes that only run large, sometimes you need shoes that fit petite feet and you are tired of being forced into the kids section to find a shoe that doesn’t have a cartoon character or isn’t bedazzled out for a pageant. For people who find themselves typically relegated to these shelves, they can try out Cinderella of Boston, who has a large line of lovely heels, boots and wedges that go down to a women’s size 2 or Jay Butler, who has lovely leather loafers that go down to a men’s 4 that anyone would proudly show off at the office. For more casual styles, Nike sells down to a men’s size 3 & women’s 4, Converse sells down to a men’s 3 and women’s 4 (technically, but really 4.5 if you want any kind of selection), Vans sells a full range of shoes from toddler sizes through large adult sizes (Honestly Van’s shoes tend to be known for their unisex and ageless aesthetic, so their need to sort their products into gendered and aged categories is a bit confusing.), New Balance sells down to a men’s 3.5, women’s 5 and “Big Kid” 3.5 that have some solid adult styling. Adidas sells down to Men’s 3, Women’s 4 and has a good range of kids sizes that are a coin flip on whether it might suit an adult sensibility. And finally Toms has “kid” sizes with a few “adult” styles of wedges and sliders, but let’s be real, if you like Tom’s you probably aren’t opposed to a few llamas or mermaid scales printed on your shoes.
- The Little Shoe Store offers shoes for little people that take width and height into consideration, and if you are looking for an even more specific fit, some shoes have even more customization options.
- For anyone who lives with foot pain, FootSmart is for you. They provide “supportive, stabilizing, and motion control shoes, sandals and boots” and they are darn cute to boot (I’m looking at you Cobb Hill Brunswick WP Lace and 2 pc ankle!)
- Billy’s offers a wide range of styles that come with a discreet zipper that follows along a seam on the upper that goes all the way to your toes. This design makes these shoes very easy to put on resulting in a pair of shoes that are seamlessly accessible and look great while doing it.
- Friendly claims to be the world’s finest adaptive footwear, and it is easy to see why when you learn, that similar to Billy’s shoes, their “Easy Shoe Access technology zipper in the middle of the shoe, [ensures that] you can easily slide your foot in and close it up even if you have tremors.” They differ from Billy’s in that their zipper pull is much larger, making it more visibly distinct from your typical sneaker, but upping the accessibility.
- Patti + Ricky has a line of children’s boots that are designed to cover AFO Braces. So, if your child isn’t comfortable showing off their AT, these boots are a great option. These shoes can accommodate hinged AFO’s, feature a rubber sole for durability and traction, the footbeds are flat with the zipper extending all the way to the sole, and has an elastic ankle strap built in to hold them snug.