Jumpsuits can be tricky to begin with—finding the right length and fit is often a challege—but for differently abled folks they can de downright impossible to get into. But not anymore: ASOS has gone and re-defined the jumpsuit in the best way, by making sure everyone can wear one.
The UK-based brand took the internet by storm this week with the release of a jumpsuit created specifically with wheelchair users in mind. The item, which dropped on the site on July 4, was designed in collaboration with British journalist and para-athlete Chloe Ball-Hopkins. A wheelchair user herself, Ball-Hopkins is also featured in the campaign images.
The idea for the brightly coloured, waterproof suit came after a particularly uncomfortable festival experience at last year’s Splendourfest in Nottingham, England. Ball-Hopkins, wet and cold after roughing it in inclement weather, was forced to resort to some *unfashionable* and uncomfortable clothing. “I ended up kind of wearing the sheets out [of] the back of the car,” she tells FLARE. “It didn’t feel like it was particularly fashionable for someone my age.” Returning home, she reached out to several fashion brands to share her story and when ASOS responded she was ecstatic—if not, seriously surprised. What followed was a collaboration culminating in the creation of this seriously cute and versatile jumpsuit.
So what makes this particular jumpsuit so accessible? For one, it’s not *technically* a one-piece jumpsuit—the zipper around the middle creates a separate top and bottom making it easier to put on and remove for those in wheelchairs. It also makes the outfit more versatile, says Ball-Hopkins, noting that the top and bottom and each be worn separately with other items. The innovative jumpsuit also features zip pockets, tapered ankles, a longer hemline that prevents riding up, and a lining that allows you to stay warm and dry.
The internet reacted swiftly and accordingly, with fashion lovers and disability advocates applauding ASOS and Ball-Hopkins for their work.
— peach (@ru194) July 4, 2018
Gurls Talk, an online community founded by model Adwoa Aboah, tweeted its support, noting how shopping is something often taken for granted, and applauding the brand for challenging stigmas.
Great to see this sort of representation on the @ASOS website. Shopping is something most of us take for granted in terms of representation. Seeing disabled people in the media through campaigns, as actors, singers is so important as it challenges the stigma around disabilities. pic.twitter.com/asQAprWFxS
— Gurls Talk (@gurlstalk) July 4, 2018
It’s clear that this isn’t just about a jumpsuit, it’s about so much more.
“I think people are starting to realize the difficulty that people have in chairs,” Ball-Hopkins says. “The difficulty of not actually seeing yourself reflected in the products you’re shopping for.”
The fashion industry has long been on blast for its lack of representation—or straight-up tokenization. In 2015, Interview Magazine came under fire for featuring Kylie Kardashian on the cover of their December “art” issue…in a wheelchair as a prop.
Thankfully, things have been changing, albeit slowly. Brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Nike have made the foray into inclusive and accessible fashion, including footwear for people with mobility issues. Ball-Hopkins says that part of the reason she wanted to work with ASOS was because of the strides they’ve already been making toward more accessible fashion. Their corporate website reads: “Accessible clothing is an area that we’re looking to make improvements in, both in terms of designing clothes differently and helping people with specific needs find what they’re looking for more easily.” Earlier this year the brand featured an amputee model in an athleisure campaign, and they have also received positive attention for leaving images of models untouched.
“[If ]you see yourself reflected in the things you’re buying, you’re more likely to want to buy it for yourself,” Ball-Hopkins says, noting that it’s a smart move for brands to target this market. However, she also wants to point out that clothing should be inclusive for everyone—her jumpsuit isn’t only for differently abled people.
“The fact that a company [this] size is willing to open their eyes and do this sort of thing, it starts making you question why the rest of them aren’t,” Ball-Hopkins says. We’re here for this new (and hopefully here-to-stay) fashion trend.
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