Spotlight: IZ Adaptive Couture for Wheelchair Users

Thanks to the wonderful folks at the Marilyn Denis Show, I recently found out about an amazing Canadian fashion designer named Izzy Camilleri, who has created the world’s first, and so far one of the only, fashionable clothing lines tailored specifically to the needs to wheelchair users, IZ Adaptive. This is one of those ‘duh’ ideas that you don’t realize is so obvious, so needed, and so wonderful until you hear about it–of course people who are seated all day, every day will need special kinds of clothes, which take into account some of the health issues that surround lack of mobility.

These can range from pressure sores and organ settling to circulation and bladder issues. Something as seemingly innocuous as pockets on the back of jeans can cause sores that might take a seated person almost a year to recover from. More companies are recognizing the need to get into the adaptive clothing game, but, in this regard, Camilleri is a true trailblazer.

Camilleri used to do fashion editorials for the likes of Angelina Jolie and David Bowie. Her work has appeared in Vogue. But when, in 2004, a wheelchair-using journalist approached Camilleri about designing a cape for the winter, the experience proved inspirational, and the idea for IZ Adaptive was born. But you should hear it from her:

It would take five years for her to open her online store. She also has a studio in Toronto where you can view clothes by appointment. Ten percent of all proceeds from sales of her designs go to building access ramps in communities across North America. There’s also a T-shirt you can buy here, 100% of the proceeds of which go towards their “mission of making the world a more accessible place.”

The best thing about her women’s and men’s lines is that Camilleri makes, as Kate Matelan from New Mobility magazine noted, “on-trend fashions that don’t necessarily look adapted.” Everybody should have access to clothes that make them look fabulous, and with Camilleri’s team’s special adaptations, which she honed from working with wheelchair users for over a decade, they can. (The web site ships internationally.) As Camilleri herself notes in Matelan’s piece: “I always say the clothes are secondary to what they deliver. They offer a sense of self, personality, dignity. They’re more than just an article of clothing.”

Please help me get the word out about IZ Adaptive. And if you know of any wheelchair users looking to spice up their wardrobe, send them Camilleri’s way: Because Fashion IZ Freedom!

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