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Designers put glam in adaptive wear

Lynette Hazelton, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Fashion Daily News

PHILADELPHIA -- Curiosity may kill the cat but for Nancy Connor and Johnny Goodwin Jr., Philadelphia-based self taught designers, it helped them launch a thriving business in a growing niche — adaptive apparel.

Connor was curious about how to create better outfits for her father who had to sacrifice fashion flair when he went into assisted living.

“My father wore a suit everyday — button-down shirt, dress shoes,” Connor said explaining that as her father needed more help dressing, his preference for Oxford shirts, slacks and shoes gave way to a caregiver’s need for dressing ease. The only thing available were sweat clothes.

”I thought there must be a better way,” Connor said.

Goodwin, a former facilities manager and mural artist, remembers reading a random blog post one day.

“Men were complaining about their tidy whities.” That started him on a deep search into the men’s underwear industry. “I started looking into men’s underwear and since the 1930s they hadn’t really changed, not a real significant change.


“It was time for an upgrade,” he thought.An underserved market

The need for adaptive clothing has been fueled by a combination of aging Baby Boomers — 12,000 people will turn 65 every day this year — and that one out of four Americans are living with a disability. The elderly, rehabilitation patients, special needs children, stroke victims are a few of the growing number of Americans that are having trouble dressing themselves.

“We all know someone who struggles with dressing,” Connor said.

The adaptive clothing market, currently estimated at $263 million, is expected to reach $301 million by 2028.


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