Wendy, founder of June Adaptive
January 31st, 2022
It was her love for a family member that made Wendy dedicate herself to accessible clothing.
This is the story of June Adaptive, a trailblazing Canadian adaptive fashion outlet.
Wendy's journey in adaptive fashion started with her aunt June.
June was more than just a cool aunt to Wendy; she was also a sister and friend, as well as a dog lover and medical professional.
But life would dramatically change for June. Following a car accident, she lost the use of her arms and legs, and now relied on support from her family. Eager to be there for her much loved aunt, Wendy rushed to help however she could.
Having an eye for style, and working for major retailers in the fashion industry, it was natural for her to help by finding her aunt new clothes to wear as she recovered and began adjusting to a different way of living.
A family snapshot: Aunt June second to left, with Wendy next to her on the right (photo: June Adaptive)
But Wendy quickly ran into roadblocks. June's clothes needed special buttons for caregivers to dress her, which ruled out nearly everything Wendy could find at popular fashion retailers. And what little clothing she could find that did have these features was unfashionable and uncomfortable.
It was a frustrating experience for Wendy, and she began thinking of how she could use her skills and experience to help her aunt and others in a similar situation.
It was at that time she considered starting her own adaptive clothing outlet, and as the frustration of trying to find suitable clothing for June continued, she decided she was ready.
Wendy places June Adaptive's clothing into main 4 categories: easy dressing, assisted dressing, seated fashion, and recovery wear.
Easy dressing includes adaptions such as magnets to help people with limited dexterity, since zippers can be difficult to adjust, as well as grip socks that help stabilize people susceptible to falls.
Assisted dressing adaptions are for people who need help getting dressed. These make it easier for themselves and others to help them into their clothing, such as by not having to lift one's legs to get them into a pair of pants.
Seated fashion's focused on wheelchair users. It includes seamless bottoms which reduce pressure sores and toggles that make it easier to open and close zippers.
Recovery wear's focused on short-term conditions that limit mobility, such as broken bones or pregnancy. For someone who may be struggling to lift an arm, for example, these clothes can provide easy access to a particular part of the body.
Just a small sample of what's available at June Adaptive (photos: June Adaptive)
And there's something Wendy wants to make clear about June Adaptive's clothing:
"All our clothing still looks great, whether someone has a disability or not, We want to do contemporary clothing that looks good no matter who wears it: no one should have to sacrifice style for accessibility."
'Everyone gets up and needs to get dressed in the morning, and being able to do that, and look good, can provide a big boost."
Adaptive Clothes, Adaptive Process
For Wendy, it's also important that purchasing her clothing is an accessible process.
June Adaptive's a digital first company, with shipping across Canada and the US. All prices are listed in Canadian dollars, free shipping's offered over $180, as well as free returns on all purchases.
The website's also been designed to be as accessible and easy to navigate as possible, and includes an accessibility assistant, alternative text, a chat function, as well as a phone number to speak with someone directly.
Looking ahead, one of Wendy's biggest goals is to find new ways to make clothing accessible, while maintaining a fashionable look. That means learning and continuing to build her ability to address the needs of persons with disabilities.
"More companies are designing for people with disabilities, but that's happening very slowly. There's still a big gap that we're here to fill."
That's exactly what June Adaptive's been doing, and for Wendy, knowing she's making a difference in people's lives is what it comes down to.
"We've had a lot of great feedback and that's the most rewarding part."
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!