It is finally that time of the year where people from all over safely get together and dress up in their best and scariest costumes to celebrate the most terrifying night of the year: Halloween! Costumes are the best when it comes to Halloween fashion, but sometimes it can be difficult to find costumes that are inclusive to people who deal with disabilities. This is where adaptive Halloween costumes come in.
Adaptive Halloween costumes are costumes made for people that have disabilities and these costumes are constructed to be easy to wear so that everyone can enjoy Halloween in an inclusive environment.
April Davenport, a recent Oregon State University graduate who double majored in apparel design and merchandising management, is the founder of Crutch'n It, an accessory line for crutch and cane accessories. In the past, Davenport had a physical disability but has been able to do so much despite the challenges she went through. She has been designing adaptive apparel for three years, and is currently working at BILLY Footwear, an adaptive and inclusive footwear line whose goal is to make footwear accessible to everyone. Davenport states that, “This year's Halloween is especially hard for people with disabilities, because a lot of them have compromised immune systems, and there aren't very many safe ways for us to physically socialize at the moment. I am, however, looking forward to seeing how kids adapt their Halloween costumes to incorporate their masks, regardless of their ability. I suspect people with disabilities will have no issue adapting to this new challenge, since we spend much of our life trying to adapt to our surrounding circumstances.”
For Halloween, she plans on making her costume this year, but it will not be adapted since she does not have mobility issues. This year she will be dressing up as a piñata, and her puppy will be a Tootsie roll. The inspiration that went into this costume choice was that it would go with the costume she picked out for her dog, and because it would be fun to make.
Keaton Springer, an apparel design major, and creator of Springergarments has stated that he has worked with adaptive wear concepts and that he is currently trying to make a custom outfit for an upcoming shoot. "I know a few brands are doing great jobs with adaptive clothing that anyone can wear such as Tommy Hilfiger. Usually just involves replacing the zipper with a magnet from closure, or other fitting practices for individuals. It’s a lot more simple than brands make it out to be and it makes everyone feel included.”
Springer also expressed the main frustrations from consumers in this target market and how when they put on adaptive clothing, it makes them feel confident. When working at Springergarments, he usually works on pieces as 1-of-1 for every person he makes them for. “I’m taking a lot of inspiration from Tommy Hilfiger's Adaptive collection because I think they’ve paved a path for opening up adaptive wear to the mainstream fashion market. They do a great job at satisfying those frustrations, and I hope to recreate that in a similar fashion."
Another designer that has worked with adaptive wear is Jayashree Black-Lazo, a natural resources major, and the creator of Shreeline. They stated that they have designed adaptive wear and made costumes for themselves and other people in the past. This year, they plan on designing a matrix inspired outfit, since it seems as if the world is currently living in the matrix.
Cameo Perrells, a nutrition major and a board member of Oregon State University’s Disabled Students Union, states that “Adaptive costumes give people with disabilities options not just limiting them to a character with a disability.” She discusses how disabled “characters” are rarely seen in the media and that expansion options are limited. “Adaptive costumes also allow users with mobility devices to expand their creativity and imagination by dressing up their mobility aid. This is a magical escape for some as they feel that they’re in disguise or totally blended in.”
Adaptive Halloween costumes not only allows people with disabilities to participate in the annual tradition of dressing up, but according to Perrells, also "make[s] everyone feel included and like their voice is being heard in every aspect of their life”.