Finding clothes to fit your needs and style is often difficult when you have conditions that affect your nerves, muscles and mobility, including Foot Drop. But if you’ve long wished more retailers would offer inclusive clothing options, that wish could be coming true and to a retailer near you.
In April, Target announced that it is expanding what it refers to as its adaptive clothing and products beyond its Cat & Jack kids label. Meanwhile, shoe retailer Zappos.com is now allowing customers to purchase single shoes or mixed sizes. In addition to Target and Zappos, Lands End, Kohl’s, Nike, Asos and others have already joined the likes of clothing designers, including Tommy Hilfiger, offering inclusive lines of jeans, dresses, bathing suits, jackets and shoes that are designed to be more functional, stylish and comfortable.
Among the clothing options now in stores are softer items without tags, buttons and zippers; pants without back pockets and with higher rise in the back for people in wheelchairs; jeans with bootcut legs to allow for AFOs or other leg braces; and shirts with hidden openings around the stomach to accommodate feeding tubes.Get Back UP Today Co-Captain Beth Deloria has long championed the cause for more universal clothing options, especially in the footwear category where AFO-wearers often struggle to find shoes that fit, are available in two different sizes, function correctly and are stylish. “We are not defined by our injuries or conditions, even though we may feel confined by them at times,” says Beth. “A common complaint from AFO-wearers is that they want the same style options as everyone else. The good news is that there are more stylish, orthotic-friendly shoes and boots available today than ever before.”
Mindy Scheier, who founded the Runway of Dreams Foundation which works with designers and retailers to make fashion more inclusive, recently told CNBC that there are ways clothing can be made with universal features included. “[Retailers] can replace closures such as zippers and buttons with ones that make it easier to close garments, such as magnets,” says Scheier. “They can make products adjustable so wearers don’t need to spend money on tailoring. They can also provide alternate ways to get the clothing on and off the body, such as extra slots for limbs to fit through.”
As retailers begin to take more cues from inclusive designers like Scheier, the expectation is that more universal clothing designs will be arriving in stores. However, the designs are not the only motivation for retailers as Vogue Business recently reported that the spending power of individuals with disabilities is valued at $490 billion. That economic leverage is expected to expand the market for inclusive clothing to nearly $400 billion by 2026, while the adaptive footwear market is projected to grow to $10.6 billion by 2024.
In addition to the clothing retailers included above, here are some tips and suggestions from Beth to help AFO-wearers find shoes that help them optimize the functionality of their AFOs:
- Zappos and com – both offer free return shipping if you are unsure if a shoe will work with your AFO.
- Orthotic Shop, Flow Feet and The Healthy Feet Store – adaptive footwear sellers who specialize in corrective footwear.
- Nordstrom, Birkenstock®, LL Bean (and now Zappos) – offer odd-sized pairing for little or no extra cost and easy return policies.
- In addition to searching online and retail outlets, it can be helpful to look for brands that are known for their stylish, inclusive lines of shoes and boots, such as Aetrex®, Beautifeel®, Drew®, Ecco®, TheNorthFace®, Propet®, Rockport®, Waldlaufer® and Wolky®.
Combining style with everyday comfort and support, they have full grain uppers and linings, comfort padded leather insoles with arch support for all day wear, and TPR outsoles for sure-footed traction. Hook-and-loop cross strap for easy on/offand adjustable fit. Remove insoles to accommodate custom orthotics.
$59.99 @ SupportPlus.com
The Seven7® able Adaptive Classic Straight Jeans w/ Magnetic Closure in Sarrant are a modern look. Featuring a power stretch slub denim that’s incredibly comfortable, allowing for unrestricted movement. These adaptive jeans make dressing a breeze with a Velcro® and magnetic fly.
$59 @ Zappos.com
Crafted from a lightweight and breathable cotton fabric with a contrasting print throughout the skirt and trim. This style secures at the side with a zip closure and a snap button, perfect for independent dressing or caregivers.
$95 @ Zappos.com
Dressier shoe for children than sneakers, for occasions like wedding or church events, bends to accommodate even bulky AFOs, Velcro closures for limited use of hands, removeable insole and extra-depth.
$24.95 @ hatchbacksfootwear.com