Inclusive clothing line

From skinny jeans to a blouse with multiple buttons or a long winter coat, they are all pieces that belong to our daily wardrobes. While most of us can put these garments on without any difficulties, there are unfortunately people for which this is not the case. 

Graduation thesis idea

Arne Berteel, a 22-year-old student in fashion technology, knows everything about this. His own experiences inspired him to focus on this topic for his graduation thesis. Instead of keeping it only theoretical, he decided to take it a step further and create the actual designs. While he juggles writing his thesis and developing the collection, he is also doing an internship at Soul 15 Costumes & Concepts. An Antwerp-based company where he is responsible for pattern making.

Gap in the market

Born with a physical disability himself, Arne quickly realized how difficult it is to find garments adapted to his needs. To give a few examples: trouser legs that are too tight for people who walk with splints, a long row of buttons on shirts for people that struggle with fine motor skills, difficulties to put on and take off a thick winter coat, the lack of comfort trousers have for wheelchair users, and so on. When his target group, which are people in their twenties with a physical disability, does find adapted garments, they are often not stylish. He thus sees the opportunity to use his creativity and answer the market’s needs. 

The focus for his first unisex collection lays on three basic pieces: a shirt, a classic trouser and a coat. He likes to describe the style of his designs as “casual chic”: garments that people can wear daily but that are still unique, creative and fashionable. Each piece requires adaptions to facilitate the putting on and taking off process while ensuring they are comfortable to wear. 

The most complex piece is the coat, as it needs an adapted back piece. Why exactly you might ask? One of Arne’s friends is a wheelchair user and often struggles to properly put on and take off her coat, as the backrest is in the way. She resolves this issue by putting on her coat backwards to avoid an excess of fabric behind her back. In itself an inventive solution, but not ideal. Arne wants to take out a part of the coat’s back piece to eliminate this problem once and for all. Magnetic buttons, hidden zippers to widen trousers legs and comfortable fabrics are another way for him to make his designs inclusive. 

Disability isn’t a limitation

With this project, he wants to stress that it isn’t his disabilities, and the ones of others, that limit him but how the world around him is designed. He is determined to launch his designs soon to provide fashionable garments for his target group. He is in touch with different companies and discusses the possibilities of producing the collection. 

Arne realizes his collection doesn’t eliminate anyone’s disability, but it does erase the disability to not be able to dress stylishly. 

Are you moved and inspired by this project, and you want to give Arne a hand? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with him as he is always looking for new contributors: