If you are someone who follows fashion news, then you have probably noticed the big changes that have been going on within the industry lately. Huge shifts are happening with how clothes are made, what they are made of, and who they are made for. A lot has been happening with how designers are now using more sustainable products and how they are shifting focus on the type of person they design for. Many designs now choose to make looks that can be worn by any body type and not just for a model figure.

Designers are experimenting with different markets and are making more clothes to better suit all types of people. A new market that is beginning to emerge is fashion for individuals with disabilities. This new market of fashion embraces accessibility and comfort to make personalized clothes to fit all different individuals.

Recently, a new exhibit was just opened at the Jill Stuart Gallery that brings this new trend to the surface. The exhibit is called ‘Ad(dress)ing Ableism’ and is co-sponsored by Haven, the Cornell Women’s Resource Center and the Student Assembly. This gallery was put in to place give people a taste of what fashion can be like for those with disabilities.

Different students modeled for the exhibit and had on dresses that they presented to the people in attendance. The dresses were designed to the student’s unique needs. Around the exhibit different mirrors were hung and were covered in personal statements by the students. They wrote phrases that reflected how they viewed their look and the role that fashion plays in raising awareness towards disability.

S.A. President at Cornell, Jordan Berger, was the organizer for this event and the one who first came up with the idea. Her and her roommate are both very passionate about fashion and disabilities rights and wanted to come up with a creative and way to merge the two together and bring awareness to this cause.

Two other students of Cornell designed the clothes for this event and wanted to make sure each design was functional but still fashionable.
Both designers agreed that there is a lack of recognition for the need of larger industry in disability fashion. Many people who design clothes do not think about making he outfits completely accessible for people who have disabilities.

These two designers received funds from the Human Ecology Alumni Association and then personally meant with each model who would be wearing their designs during the exhibition opening. They wanted each outfit to be personalized and meet each person’s disability and style. They wanted the models to feel completely confident in what they were wearing. They asked each of the models the problems they have with clothing and for different reasons that made certain outfits not accessible. The advice helped them in making sure their designs reached the needs of each student.

Berger made sure that the exhibit promoted disability awareness in a professional manner. She was excited to showcase this issues because it is something many people do not talk about. Most people feel uncomfortable having a conversation on this topic so she felt this was a way to get the conversation going about it and bring it to the forefront.

All different types of disabilities were presented which broke down a barrier in terms of what a disability can be. The outfits allowed the models to feel empowered and be self-expressive through their fashion in a way that was still comfortable to them.

“Disability” was showcased as a diverse aspect; something that was part of a person’s identity but something that does not define the person as a whole. Each model was unique an was celebrated in different ways. Through this exhibit it makes the cause more known and accepted.

Once the the exhibit closes, Berger still wants to make sure she is raising awareness around campus and plans to take the mannequins she purchased and place them around Cornell with the clothes that were designed and warn by the models at the event.

Fashion is no longer “one-size-fits-all” and it’s empowering to see people embrace it and bring awareness to that. Hopefully soon many more fashion markets will start to emerge that cater too all different types of individuals and not just have one standard look.

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