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Adaptive Versus Inclusive — Words Matter When it Comes to Apparel for People Living with Disabilities

Story Contact: Sheena Rice, Mizzou News

Kerri McBee-BlackMU researchers found that people living with disabilities wish to purchase clothing that is designed and marketed like any other apparel

Retailers and brands such as Kohl’s, Nike, Target, Tommy Hilfiger and Zappos have recently launched adaptive apparel lines, and economists have predicted that the U.S. adaptive clothing market could grow to $54.8 billion by 2023. However, brands should consider the language they use when marketing products to this group of consumers, according to a new study from the University of Missouri. Researchers say that "adaptive" makes the apparel seem separate from the market.

"Terms such as ‘adaptive apparel’ are popular with companies," said Kerri McBee Black, instructor of textile and apparel management. "However, calling an item of clothing adaptive can alienate and exclude people living with disabilities. Like all consumers, this population wants to feel embraced by a brand, not excluded as someone different."

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