The next several posts from this Blogger will be dedicated to the movers and shakers of fashion who were highlighted in the previous post TOP 10 FASHION MUST_HAVES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.
When we think of fashion icons we envision a particular person, like an actress or rock star. Although, there is a staple in nearly every American’s wardrobe (and beyond) that has enough fashion credibility to be considered among the celebrity ranks – Jeans!
Although this fashion craze has been enjoyed by the masses for about a hundred years, many people with disabilities have been denied access to this unending trend…until now.
Thanks to fashion forward entrepreneurs like Karen Bowersox, jeans are becoming accessible to people with Down Syndrome and other mobility impairments.
Bowersox’s solution to this fashion disparity is Downs Designs® and NBZ® Jeans. She describes these two brands as follows:
“Downs Designs® jeans have no button, zipper or tag, a full elastic waistband and the denim is soft and stretchy. They are stylish and comfortable and easy to pull on and take off, making independent dressing easy.
NBZ® Jeans are jeans for men and boys of “standard” size. These jeans could actually be worn by women or girls as well. These jeans offer the same comfort and style as our Downs Designs® jeans because they have no button, zipper or tag, a full elastic waistband and the denim is soft and stretchy, but they are of standard sizes and lengths…”
Bowersox credits Jillian Jankovsky, the Down Designs fashion designer, and her granddaughter for providing her with the inspiration to take on this denim endeavor. In her own words, Bowersox explains to TMR the history of Downs Designs®.
“I have a granddaughter, Maggie, who was born with Down Syndrome. As she grew, I realized that nothing off the rack was fitting her. Everything was too long and just didn’t fit right. Her mother was constantly complaining about how poorly her clothes fit and that everything she wore was too long. When she was four years old, my daughter challenged me to start a clothing line for people with Down Syndrome.
I knew nothing about this industry but soon started researching the idea. I called the local design school and asked them how I would start a company like this. They told me I would need to hire a designer and find “fit” models that she could work with in order to create this line of clothing that would be specifically shaped for the body type of a person with Down syndrome.
So I hired a young graduate, Jillian, and we had to find models that she could work with. It took us four years to design and manufacture our 18 styles of jeans.
Our models are people born with Down Syndrome from all age groups and body shapes. Jillian took about 6 or 7 months on each age group to create our Downs Designs® brand and she did a brilliant job. To honor our models, I named our jean styles after each of them to show how much I appreciate their time and effort spent with us to create our amazing line of jeans. They age from small children to adults. Their body shapes are the key to a particular style. For example, our Sheryl jean is a very different shape from our Diva jean. Photos and drawing on our web site help our customers choose the style of pants their loved one would wear and we also give plenty of help to each new customer.”
Are you deprived of designer jeans because you can’t find any that accommodate your fashion requirements?