A new survey, backed by the National Autism Society, reveals that 72 percent of people who identify as having a disability say they have not encountered fashion brands that actively embrace neurodiversity.
The survey, commissioned by fashion brand Rare Birds, which designs specifically for the neurodiverse, highlights calls from UK shoppers for better representation in the fashion industry and inclusive clothing designs.
From the 2,000 respondents, it found that more than half (54 percent) believed that fashion brands should make ‘inclusive clothing,’ with a third (31 percent) of 18–24-year-olds adding that they are more likely to shop with a fashion brand that champions neurodivergent causes.
National Autism Society study shows fashion brands are not actively inclusive
The data also reveals that there is a lack of understanding of the impact of clothing on the neurodiverse, with 63 percent of men and 41 percent of women unaware that people with conditions such as autism and ADHD sometimes find it difficult to wear traditional clothing, because tags, zips and standard fabrics can cause discomfort.
However, 48 percent of all surveyed agreed that fashion brands should ensure their clothing is suitable for neurodivergent individuals, such as taking care in the design process to eliminate features which may cause distress, such as itchy tags, inside seams and tight neck holes.
Clementine Schouteden, founder of Rare Birds, said in a statement: “These findings are a painful reminder that so many individuals are going unrepresented in the fashion industry, unable to shop for their needs or see people like them on billboards, magazine covers and websites. Fashion is power. Everyone deserves to wake up and put on clothes that make them feel unstoppable, and yet the fashion industry is refusing to design for the 1 in 7 adults with neurodivergence.
“At Rare Birds we’re making a proactive change in the industry, designing for inclusivity from the start. All the items in Rare Birds range are designed without itchy labels and boast soft seams, deep pockets, wide neck holes and elastic waist bands.”