Adaptive clothing brand Aaraam Se promises comfort & style for people with disabilities
There’s growing awareness about the need for adaptive clothing wear in India but barely any brands are catering to people with disabilities and the elderly. Kochi-based designer Ashima Bhan is looking to meet this gap with her range called Aaraam Se.
A designer by background, Ashima Bhan, based in Kochi, Kerala, is well known for her affordable range of casual and comfortable women’s wear. That’s exactly what her new range of adaptive wear, Aaraam Se, promises. Easy to wear, stylish and confident wear for people with disabilities and the elderly.
The idea for Aaraam Se, which is Hindi for ‘with ease’, was born of a suggestion made by a friend. “When the big players came in and took over the fashion market space, I was looking for alternative ideas”, says Ashima. “Someone suggested adaptive clothing and I thought ‘Wow’, it’s a market that no one thought of”.
That’s precisely the mindset barrier people with disabilities and the elderly in India come up against. Despite their significant presence, few clothing brands regard them as consumers. Barring a few designers, adaptive clothing remains unexplored.
Major Indian fashion brands ignore needs of PwD
Something Lalit Gambhir, who is based in Gurugram, feels strongly about. “There is a huge vacuum when it comes to adaptive wear”. Lalit’s brother, who is 52 years old, has mental retardation (MR), an outcome of a meningitis attack he suffered as a baby. “My brother lives with me and I am constantly struggling for everything from clothes to diapers”, says Lalit, who has reached out to Ashima for some of his needs. “I have no idea how disabled people and their caregivers in India manage. There are so many challenges. I feel we are the most irresponsible country in the world as far as people with disabilities are concerned”.
An apathy Ashima discovered as well as she started exploring the adaptive wear market.
I was initially looking at the elderly segment, but my exploration led me to people with various types of disabilities. That shifted my perspective on adaptive clothing. There are varying degrees of disability and the garment design must work differently. It requires a one on one connect, something I enjoy doing to work out a solution. This is so much more satisfying and goes beyond designing something that’s just pretty and beautiful. – Ashima Bhan, Fashion designer
The range of designs in Aaraam Se are not just functional. They look stylish and trendy as well apart from offering practical features like snap buttons and openings from the back. The buttoning is simple with metal snap buttons along the shoulder. These avoid pressure point for the user and look great from a design point of view. There are kurtas, shirts, night dresses and trousers with zippered legs.
Aaraam Se offers customised designs
“The need for such wear hits you hard when one realises the vast number of people who are just not considered”, adds Ashima. She wants to build a platform on social media where people with disabilities can share their clothing needs. “I want to throw this open to the public and this can help create empathy”, she adds.
Vadodara-based Kailash Bhan has bought some of the clothes in the Aaraam Se range for his mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. “They have to worn from the front, so it is easy to dress her now. The fabric is comfortable too”.
Among the people Ashram is working with to develop new designs is Vipin Janardhanan. Vipin, 39 years old, lives in Bengaluru and has cerebral palsy. “I am so happy that Ashima is looking into this. For instance, I struggle with wearing socks and it takes me a long time to wear them on my own. It’s high time the needs of people with disabilities are looked into”.
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