All The Things Paralympian Nikita Howarth Considers When Buying Clothes

Sleeves, buttons and stretch, there's much to consider. For International Day of People with Disability 2020, Nikita shares her experience and advice

Nikita Howarth. Photo / Supplied

Fashion is for everyone, but some people have more things to consider when engaging with clothing than others. With the International Day of People with Disability 2020 on December 3 (coinciding with the first birthday of innovative adaptive fashion website EveryHuman) we asked Paralympic gold medalist Nikita Howarth to share some of the things she factors in when buying clothes or getting dressed, what it's like engaging with fashion, and how fashion can better accommodate those with access needs.

Nikkita's 5 Most Important Considerations

  1. I look at how long the sleeves are
  2. How stretchy the fabric is — especially the sleeves as I like to roll mine up
  3. If it can be cut with scissors to adjust
  4. Whether it has buttons or domes — fastenings are important
  5. If there is a drawstring or not

Are some garments easier to buy than others?

Yes, bottoms are easier as I have no need to stress about stretch or buttons, one button is usually easy to undo.

Are there some things you never wear?

I never wear button-up shirts and sleeves with no cuff at the bottom of the arm.

Do you look ahead to the rest of your day when getting dressed in the morning?

I don't actually, I focus on how I'm going to be comfortable.

What makes an adaptive fashion garment successful?

It is successful if the person wearing it can go about their day and not notice it, or have to adjust it.

What is something that people don’t realise about the fashion/clothing experience of someone living with access needs?

I think people don't realise that we can't just buy whatever we like, and shopping can be more on the stressful side

How has EveryHuman made shopping easier?

I think just seeing things that look easy-as to put on makes the experience much more exciting and better, I look forward to seeing all the new designs.

READ: Tommy Hilfiger’s Adaptive Collection Partners With EveryHuman

EveryHuman. Photo / Supplied

Why is it important to have tailored websites like this?

It's important to have tailored websites as shopping at the best of times seems somewhat impossible. Things just never fit right.

What are your favourite garments and/or designers and why?

I really enjoy wearing cropped singlets so my arms are fully out, and I really like the idea that Vans has of having no-lace shoes

What outfit makes you feel best?

My favourite outfit is my high-waisted denim shorts and my stretchy crop singlet with my Billy shoes from EveryHuman that are zip-up high tops.

What should designers and brands consider when creating adaptive clothing and accessories to make them more accessible?

They should consider consulting people with disabilities more frequently as we know what works and what doesn't.

Any other advice for retailers looking to be more inclusive?

My advice would be to research other brands and ask general disabled people.

How can the wider community support those with access needs when it comes to fashion and design?

Ask them what works for themselves, just ask.

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