In February, people supported by ADAPT met at the Adult Day Program on 154th Street in Manhattan for ADAPT the Runway, a fashion show centered around adaptive clothing. Excitement filled the air as the individuals and staff filed into a room decorated with balloons and streamers, lit by colorful spotlights. Down the hallway, in the “backstage” area, the model/designers donned their creations and prepared to strut down the runway.
The show was split up into several different categories, such as adaptive clothing, upcycled clothes, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQ+-inspired fashion. The fashion show was streamed on the virtual programing show “Wake Up ADAPT!” for all the individuals we support to see, regardless of whether they could make it in person. As their designs were introduced and explained by host Alicia Angevine, the models strutted down the hallway and struck a pose in front of a cheering crowd.
Adaptive clothing is clothing designed to fit the needs of people with disabilities. These adaptations can include replacing buttons with zippers, magnets or Velcro to make them easier to open and close, cutting the clothing in certain ways to make it easier to slip on, or adding breathability to make the clothes more comfortable for wheelchair users.
Theo Kolbrener, an ADAPT Theatre Specialist, explained how adaptive clothing can make a real difference in the effort that some people with developmental disabilities needs to put toward getting dressed.
“We have some folks who are able to get into their hoodies while seated in their chairs, which is really cool” Theo said. “It tends to be a bit of an ordeal getting dressed for some wheelchair users.”
Each individual led the design process for their fashion, assisted by Art Specialist Daytòn Everett, a.k.a. Se7en. Se7en has been a professional fashion designer since before he began working at ADAPT and has been designing and customizing his own clothing since he was 12 years old. He has not only been teaching the individuals we support about adaptive clothing, but also educating them about fashion’s impact on the environment and the importance of upcycling. Many of the creations featured in the fashion show were upcycled from old clothing, with individuals adding adaptations and their own personal flair to the pieces.
Tony Switzer, an attendee of the Adult Day Program at 154th Street, participated in the upcycling category. He took an old hoodie, cut it down the side, and added Velcro to make it easier to take on and off. He also created his own design to put on the front of the piece.
“We came together and put on a great show” Tony said. “Hopefully this is not the last you’ll see of me in the show. It was a great experience for me to get my feet wet a little bit and see what the hype is about behind fashion”.
ADAPT isn’t done with the runway yet! On Thursday June 22nd 2023, from 5-6 pm, ADAPT will be collaborating with the Whitney Museum at the LGBTQIA+ Radical Joy Ball. The Radical Joy Ball is a celebration of the intersection between the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and disabled communities and will feature performances by individuals we support. To register for the event, click the link here. We hope to see you there!