Kintsugi - disability conscious clothing
- Credit: Archant
Emma McClelland from Manchester is leading the fashion industry to a more inclusive future
When Emma McClelland learned that disabled people have fewer clothing options available to them than dogs, she was shocked, outraged and determined to do something about it.
The shocking statistic appeared in a 2016 Tedx Talk given by Stephanie Thomas, a fashion consultant who talks about dressing with disabilities.
It inspired Emma, a former journalist, to launch her own inclusive fashion brand, Kintsugi Clothing.
'I was absolutely stunned,' Emma says. 'It seemed to me that the fashion industry doesn't see disabled people as consumers and that was something I couldn't stop thinking about.
'I decided to research the area, to see what disabled fashion I could find and everything I came across was very bland, basic and quite ugly.'
Realising this was something she thought was important to pursue, Emma quit her job as an editorial manager at a law firm and self-funded the start of her clothing line from personal savings and freelance work in order to develop her adaptive clothing range.
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'I began with research; I spoke to friends, health advisors and the local para-sports teams to see what kind of clothing they wear to suit their needs and style. I then got in touch with a fashion designer to help me create the garments.'
The apparel is designed using the suggestions from the disabled community to ensure each piece of clothing is practical while still remaining fashionable.
Tops feature concealed magnetic closures to aid those with dexterity challenges and zips run part way down the side seams of jeans and trousers to provide women with ostomy bags easier access to them.
The identity of the clothing range follows through with the name, Kintsugi; a Japanese art-form that sees broken pottery repaired with gold lacquer. 'As we travel through life, we pick up scars both emotionally and physically and it doesn't make us weak or broken but instead, enhances the uniqueness of our individual selves,' Emma explains. 'That's what I wanted to convey with my brand, that our differences are what make us unique.'
The company which launched in February 2019 has key capsule pieces that can be worn all year round, all named after inspirational women such as the Samantha top, named after actress, columnist and disability campaigner Samantha Renke.
'I wanted to give a nod to all the women I found inspiring, those who aren't afraid to make waves in society.'
Emma's work is certainly being noticed and she was a finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the Entrepreneur for Good category.
'Being a finalist was amazing news and not just for me, though it is exceptional news for a fairly new independent business, but it also shows how far diversity in the fashion industry has come.'
This is only the beginning for Kintsugi with Emma having hopes of the label collaborating with larger brands to help spread the message of inclusivity as well as remaining an inclusive brand for everyone - not just those with disabilities.
'Yes I did want to create clothing that helped those with disabilities but one of my other objectives was to create clothing that everyone can wear. Inclusivity is very important and it's a message I want to continue driving forward.'