Maria Abeyratne is both a designer of adaptive fashion, and a consumer of it. That puts her in a unique position to facilitate dialogue between makers and wearers of inclusive clothing.
To get the conversation started, Abeyratne launched an international survey last week at Adaptista, an adaptive fashion marketplace that’s designed to build community among adaptive fashion consumers and designers. The survey will be live for the next two months (through April 30), and Abeyratne hopes the results will give rise to creative ideas, new product lines, and improved services that rev the engine on the adaptive fashion industry.
A former equestrian champion and triathlete, Abeyratne was diagnosed five years ago with ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disorder that results in chronic pain and spine/joint/limb impairments. A passionate advocate of education and advocacy, she recently wrote on Adaptista’s Instagram page: “Over the coming weeks Adaptista will give a platform to all of the incredible brands designing in our industry right now, the people behind them and their stories. There are so few of us it is vitally important that the community stand together. . . . Knowledge is power, and knowledge in community is so much more powerful.”
“Small brands are struggling to be seen,” she adds in an email to Amplitude. “We want to create a platform for new designers to be easily discovered and be seen and support them along their journey. There are so many incredible designers in China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Russia, and in Europe that no one has ever seen! And it’s so incredibly difficult for designers to make an impact. Community really is power.”
Abeyratne’s own line of inclusive fashions is, she says, “completely different to what is out there at the moment. My aim is to create clothes for everybody—every body. It will take time and a learning curve of course, but one day I hope to have a line that works for both able-bodied and disabled people alike.”