The premise of the upcoming documentary, “Clothes in Conversation” is simple: a group of six up-and-coming fashion designers are challenged to create brand new looks inspired by the models that have been paired up with them for the project.

Its heart, however, lies in its purpose: to raise awareness of adaptive fashion. The models include people like Kaito, a transgender professional swimmer with Down Syndrome, chibiMOEKO, a performer born with the genetic condition achondroplasia, and Myu Ashihara, a TV personality who has been a wheelchair user since she was 16.

“Adaptive fashion” is the term used to refer to clothes that were specifically designed with the elderly and people with disabilities in mind. It requires the creation of smarter design and the use of materials like magnetic buttons and Velcro to make clothing easier for those who might not be capable of a full range of motion.

While the term is relatively recent, people like Kaito, chibiMOEKO, and Myu Ashihara have always been around. The goal of the film is to help make this type of fashion more mainstream, or at least — as hinted by the title — start a conversation for people like them.

In Japan, there have been some steps in making adaptive fashion part of the industry’s norm; United Arrows Japan created a two-way coat inspired by Paralympic ice hockey player Daisuke Uehara, who was also featured modeling the coat in his wheelchair, and Japanese artist and fashion photographer Mari Katayama (@katayamari) regularly depicts her experience as an amputee in her work.

By documenting how the designers step up to the challenge, the film offers viewers a way to fully understand the difficulties involved in adaptive fashion, from both the perspective of the designers being pushed to think more like engineers and problem solvers in order to create new clothes, and from the perspective of the models who have had to navigate the world in clothing that often does not consider them.

Clothes in Conversation was filmed as part of the True Colors Fashion Mega Conference, an event that asks the question, “What is fashion design in the age of diversity?” through the discussion of various case studies from designers, researchers, journalists and people with disabilities. The event was held online on March 5th, and an English-subtitled version of the documentary is set to be released for free viewing from March 16, 2021, on the True Colors Festival Youtube channel.

You can learn more about the documentary and the participating designers & models on True Colors Fashion’s English website.


By - Jen Santelices.