Accessible Fashion, Part 1: Fashion as Function

The Pulse

20-01-2024 • 24分

In the first of three episodes on Accessible Fashion, Joeita speaks to  Izzy Camilleri, the founder of IZ Adaptive, a clothing brand that provides accessible fashions for people with disabilities.

We discuss her foray into inclusive fashion and design at a time when no one was talking about it. She discusses how her desire to create clothes that are functional, as well as beautiful, changed the course of her life while conferring dignity to people with disabilities.

Highlights:

  • Opening Clip – Izzy on Adaptive Clothing (00:00)
  • Opening Remarks – Accessible Fashion as Function (00:39)
  • Accessible Fashion Series Overview (01:42)
  • Introducing Izzy Camilleri & IZ Adaptive (03:32)
  • A Life-Changing Phone Call (04:11)
  • Initial Challenges Designing Clothes for a Wheelchair User (06:30)
  • Designing for People Who Need Help Dressing and Those Who Dress Themselves Independently (08:19)
  • Disability Inclusive Features of Adapted Clothing (09:58)
  • Inspiration for Getting into Fashion Design (11:11)
  • Reaction of Colleagues to Izzy’s Shift into Adapted Clothing (11:46)
  • The Business Side of Adaptive Clothing (13:58)
  • Consulting with Large Labels on Accessible Design (14:58)
  • Toronto as Accessible Fashion Hotbed (16:11)
  • Creativity in Adaptive Clothing (17:01)
  • Wardrobe Essentials (18:53)
  • Feedback on IZ Adaptive (19:40)
  • What’s Next for IZ Adaptive? (21:44)
  • Show Close (22:38)

Guest Bio:

Izzy Camilleri is one of Canada’s leading and most celebrated fashion designers, and a pioneer in adaptive clothing. Izzy first ventured into the world of accessible clothing after initially doing custom work for a wheelchair user in 2004. It opened her eyes to the huge necessity for this type of clothing in the world.

In 2022, Izzy received 2 awards for her adaptive line. She won the Innovation Award from the Women’s Empowerment Awards and the Fashion Impact Award from the CAFA Awards. In 2006, she received CAFA’s Womenswear Designer of the Year Award. Her adaptive line has been featured in the Royal Ontario Museum. For more than 39 years, she has designed custom clothing for an international clientele, crafted gorgeous collections featured in fashion magazines from Vogue to InStyle, and dressed celebrities like Daniel Radcliffe, Mark Wahlberg, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie and David Bowie. Since 2009, Izzy has focused on inclusive fashion through her brand IZ Adaptive, with the mission to make great looking and well-fitting clothes accessible to everyone. To learn more about Izzy, visit www.izzycamilleri.com.

See more of Izzy Camilleri on AMI-tv’s Fashion Dis!

Each episode of Fashion Dis celebrates the head-to-toe overhaul of a frustrated style seeker discouraged by an industry that lacks adaptive options.

The Story of IZ Adaptive

IZ Adaptive was launched in 2009 after fashion designer Izzy Camilleri spent a few years creating custom clothing for a client who was a wheelchair user living with paralysis. This experience opened her eyes to the clothing challenges and limitations people face while living with a physical disability.

After years of creating these first custom pieces, Izzy realized that if her client had all these obstacles around clothing, there must be many others with the same issues. Izzy decided to hold a focus group meeting where other voices were heard around  the challenges, likes and dislikes around everyday clothing while living with a physical disability. With listening and learning, the seeds of creating a line of adaptive clothing were being planted.  After doing online research of the market, she saw that there was very little out there designed specifically for this demographic of people.  Most of what was available was for the elderly or for people living in long term care facilities. Clothing that was very dated in both design and fabric choice. Seeing this huge void in the market, Izzy saw this as an opportunity to create a line of clothes for people living with a disability, starting with modern wardrobe basics.   In June of 2009 IZ Adaptive was born.

Izzy Camilleri was hailed a trail blazer pioneering the category of adaptive clothing in the form of fashionable, functional pieces. Her new and innovative work was called revolutionary. The path since that time has been long and hard, but Izzy kept it on life support, knowing the importance of what she was creating and how many lives IZ Adaptive positively affected.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Izzy also created the first ‘Seamless Back Pant’ which helps to reduce the risk of life threatening pressure sores.  This patented technology is the most important work Izzy has done throughout her long career. These pants have become an important staple in many of IZ Adaptives customer’s wardrobes.

Today, Izzy is seen as the Thought Leader in this space. IZ Adaptive has a global reach with its online store. Major media outlets have featured IZ, and museums have also displayed this work. Universities and colleges reach out as well to learn about this new and exciting category of clothing for their studies.

IZ Adaptive continues to push boundaries, lead in innovation and is looking to the future with plans of big growth.

About The Pulse

On The Pulse, host Joeita Gupta brings us closer to issues impacting the disability community across Canada.

Joeita Gupta has nurtured a life-long dream to work in radio! She's blind, moved to Toronto in 2004 and got her start in radio at CKLN, 88.1 FM in Toronto. A former co-host of AMI-audio's Live from Studio 5, Joeita also works full-time at a nonprofit in Toronto, specializing in housing/tenant rights.

Find Joeita on X / Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeitaGupta

The Pulse airs weekly on AMI-audio.

For more information, visit https://www.ami.ca/ThePulse/

About AMI

AMI is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI’s vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through inclusion, representation, accessible media, reflection, representation and portrayal.

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