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Stylish and practical adaptive clothing

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Katie Ellis

Katie Ellis tells us about how she was inspired to found the Able Label, specialising in adaptive clothing for women. 

What was the inspiration for the Able Label?

My grandmother had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and I saw first-hand that dressing was becoming increasingly difficult for her. At the time, she only needed a little extra support with dressing but hated the fact my grandfather had to help. She wanted to remain as independent as possible, keeping her dignity. She also was adamant on maintaining her style, keeping her identity – there was no way she was going to settle for anything which sacrificed either!

So together, we searched for solutions but quickly found there was nothing suitable. Nothing stylish that was designed to be put on and taken off more easily. All the easier dressing options out there were, as you can imagine - boring, beige and basic.

Appalled by the lack of options, I decided to do something about this, drawing on my experience as a fashion buyer for White Stuff. The Able Label was born to help all those in the same situation as my Grandmother - who do not want to, and should not have to, sacrifice their fashion for functional clothes.

What research did you do before launching The Able Label?

We spent over a year and a half carrying out numerous focus groups with healthcare professionals like occupational therapists as well as women who would benefit from easier dressing clothes. We would get one style made up in five different versions - narrowing it down to the most helpful design. From the feedback, we would then go through another round of sampling. This was until we had a range, which gave the perfect balance of fashion, fit and functionality. Just as important as making the clothes easier to dress was ensuring that they were great looking too – they had to be styles that people would love to wear yet also find it easier to live with.

"The Able Label was born to help all those in the same situation as my Grandmother - who do not want to, and should not have to, sacrifice their fashion for functional clothes"

How have the clothes been adapted for people with dressing difficulties?

The Able Label range has been designed to help with a variety of physical and cognitive needs and also aims to encourage self-confidence and independence. The quality fabrics, discreet adaptive designs, innovative fastenings and hidden extras make dressing easier for those who may suffer from restricted movement, lack of finger dexterity, poor balance, cognitive difficulties or who may use a wheelchair. The design of the garments has also taken carers’ requirements into account so assisted dressing should be quicker, easier and safer. Yet when they’re being worn, no one would ever know they were adapted! We appreciate that it’s often the little things in life that can make the biggest difference so attention to detail is always at the heart of everything we do.

What kind of feedback have you had from customers?

For us, hearing from our customers is absolutely invaluable as without listening to them, we cannot develop and grow. It has been extremely rewarding receiving feedback from customers praising the range and telling us how it has changed their life for the better.

Here’s just one example: “I was very surprised by the range, it is easier to dress but actually looks stylish as well. They are pretty yet practical and there is nothing else like this around.”