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Setting a benchmark for inclusivity

Universal design thinking can unlock everyday clothing solutions for temporary and permanent conditions, the company says.

13th December 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Colombo, Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka-headquartered MAS Holdings is making inroads into the adaptive wear segment, aiming to make a transformative impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

Adaptive fashion can change the misconceptions concerning disability and improve lives, the company believes, by enabling individuals to dress independently and be fashionable.

“Our vision for adaptive apparel goes beyond incremental improvements and seeks to normalise it through universal design thinking, specialised garment construction and fastener placement, to unlock everyday clothing solutions for temporary and permanent conditions,” said Suleik Mushin adaptive marketing and consumer lead at MAS.

Adaptive wear developed by MAS benefits from the thorough research the company has undertaken over several years, with users from the United States and Sri Lanka co-creating products and validating their functionality while liaising with expert/medical professionals and caregivers to create truly meaningful and inclusive clothing solutions.

Putting these insights into practice, the company has already partnered with Slick Chicks, a patented adaptive underwear brand. The collaboration is creating easy on/off underwear for women, with a particular focus on sensory-friendly finishes and the ability to put on clothing without the need to stand or use both arms or legs. Slick Chicks has subsequently partnered with leading retailers such as Aerie, Target, Nordstrom, JC Penny and Lane Bryant.

MAS can develop specially-constructed garments – particularly intimates, swimwear, activewear and recovery wear – facilitating independent dressing for those with varying disabilities. These include amputees, wheelchair users and those with muscular dystrophy or mobility impairments, as well as people undergoing physical rehabilitation or recovery post-injury or surgery.

Adaptive garments developed by MAS allow ease and independent dressing, focusing on the needs of adaptive users – such as single-handed or seated dressing. MAS leverages specialised garment construction to provide sensory-friendly finishes, employ magnetic or auto-aligning or auto-locking fasteners, accessory pouches, wicking fabric for sweat absorption and discrete closures.

These efforts can be vital in expanding the available offering of adaptive wear, providing the crucial push necessary for brands and retailers to tap into its potential, the company says.

According to theCenter for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a quarter (26%) of adults in the USA  live with some form of disability –61 million people. Challenges with disability are likely to exacerbate in developed economies, mainly due to their ageing populations. In the USA, 40% or two in every five adults aged 65 or older have a disability.

Other growth drivers of adaptive wear include a gradual increase in employment of persons with disabilities, major brands and retailers focusing strongly on e-commerce and recent movements championing inclusivity and equality. Given such factors, the market for adaptive apparel is on a fast-growth trajectory. Coresight Research estimates that the global market for adaptive wear was $289 billion in value in 2019 and will grow to $350 billion in 2023.

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