In May 2022, fashion brand Christina Stephens was a headliner at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. This was Fashion Week’s first adaptive clothing runway to spotlight inclusive fashion – clothing that is designed to be accessible to people with disability while still being stylish.

Examples include waistcoats with magnetic fastenings rather than buttons and formal dresses that can be put on while seated in a wheelchair.

In September 2022, Tamara Weaver, Director of Community Engagement at the Royal Commission, met with Carol Taylor and Jessie Sadler from Christina Stephens. They discussed the importance of providing realistic and inclusive fashion options to people with disability.

Jessie, Founder of the brand, said to Small Business magazine, ‘[W]hen designing for someone in a wheelchair, it’s not just about designing for someone in a seated position … A seam placed in the wrong position can cause a pressure injury, and all of a sudden you’re out of action for months. Too much fabric in the wrong spot can cause excruciating nerve pain, putting the kibosh on any plans you had for the day.’

As a person with quadriplegia, Carol brings a particular lived experience to her role as Head of Design and Production at the company.

Carol and Jessie spoke to the Royal Commission about:

  • the limited fashion options for people living with a disability
  • how fashion for people with disability is over looked by major retail stores
  • the inaccessibility of shopping centres (especially strip shops) for people living with a disability to browse/window shop effectively.
‘It was lovely to spend time with Carol and Jessie,’ said Tamara. ‘I was able to better understand the importance of having choice of fashion options and how access to adaptable fashion also includes making shopping precincts more accessible for people with disability.’

Pictured: Christina Stephens models at AfterPay Australian Fashion Week 2022.
November 02, 2022 — Jessie Sadler