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We need to design clothing, as diverse as the people wearing it

If 2018 was a year of anything, I’m sure we would all agree the overall theme was diversity.

We’ve seen mandatory steps of society and the media being taken, recovering mistakes which have been endorsed and swept under the carpet for centuries, and I mean centuries. Now more than ever, it’s a time where your voice, no matter who you are, or what you have to tell – can be heard.

With that being said, diversity probably feels like a pretty exhausted concept for many. We know what diversity means, we know how we need it. Whether it be through diversity of ethnicities, diversity of shapes and heights; but a form of diversity I’m sure we can all agree on that still gets the least of recognition is of disability and impaired individuals, regardless of the estimated 11 million and above identified handicapped individuals, who count as a whole sixth of our population in the UK, and 11 billion on planet earth, which total in to 15% of the global population.

Which is why upon discovering Nottingham College student Jade Carter’s story, I knew the talented fashion student was onto something, necessary for the pivotal growth in fashion, and the diverse individuals who build and sustain the industry. Jade has ignited a revolutionary conversation. We shouldn’t just be making the people who model clothes diverse, but the clothing, its functionalities and designs too. 

Picture Credit: Nottingham College. A piece from Jade’s collection, a hoodie with accessible openings and fastening straps.

Jade who has suffered from ‘cystinosis’, a rare medical condition which affects on average 2000 people in the world, means she regularly has to endure a treatment of dialysis, in order to continue a healthy quality of life. But what is Dialysis? The NHS explain ‘Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys stop working properly. It often involves diverting blood to a machine to be cleaned’. On average almost ‘30,000 people a year endure dialysis in the UK‘, advises Kidney Care UK via a case study they carried out recently, which means on a weekly and in some circumstances daily occasion, Dialysis patients will have to continuously dress and remove their clothing for the procedure to be commended, making this a crucial need for the garment industry.

Jade’s collection is a multi-functional, and versatile without loosing an edge of colourful, graphic laced, streetwear edge, which is home to millennial style. The designs incorporate special fastenings that allow access to medical equipment but form part of the overall look, enabling individuals of many disabilities to conveniently dress in a time-efficient yet equally as stylish way.

Picture Credit: Nottingham College. Jay, Jade’s project partner who is helping to operate the website ‘able’, which sells some inventory of the collection.

That being said of course impaired people can wear standard clothes if they choose to, but there should be clothing out there which makes everyday actives easier, for people like Jade. As after all clothing is for a purpose.

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In conversation with Nottingham College during an interview about the range, Jade exclaimed ‘Dialysis is difficult, having to have needles put in your arm four times a week along with the renal diet and fluid retraction. So I believe having something alongside of this is important. Dialysis patients need easy access to lines, fistulas and grafts, but I think young people really want warm, comfy clothing that is also positive and helps them feel good. I’ve designed a range of clothing that has bright colours and a modern design, with zips and fastenings to allow easy access to medical lines, but also look attractive. I’d love for high street retailers to get on board so we could see more accessible clothing on the high street and online, as that’s where most people shop. Obviously having a health condition is part of you, but it doesn’t make you any different from anyone else in terms of being able to achieve. That’s where the inspiration for the name came from‘.

You can shop for some designs of Jade on her’s and her business partner Jay’s website we-are-able.co.uk with profits of the inventory going to her local dialysis hospital unit.