Clothes can present some special challenges when you’re a wheelchair user. Not everything that's in vogue will be a good, comfortable fit on a seated frame.
To address those unique needs, a Toronto-based company is offering fashions made specifically for men and women who use wheelchairs to get around.
Canadian designer Izzy Camilleri creates pants, tops, suits, dresses and coats for IZ Collection with a key distinction in mind: "We're dealing with a seated body as opposed to a standing body."
That means taking into account that your waist is generally wider when sitting; pants slide down and can expose you in the back; and fabric bunches in the front or behind you, said Belle Owen, a spokeswoman for the company who is also a wheelchair user.
There are medical aspects to consider, such as skin integrity. The company keeps seams minimal and as flat as possible. The pants don’t have back pockets, rivets or anything that could cause someone injury.
For clients who need to dress with assistance, the company offers an "Easy Zip Back" option, which splits coats into two halves to help people with limited arm mobility. The arch-cut back means you don't need to lean forward as much while dressing.
Clients who use a manual wheelchair need extra room in the shoulders. The clothes also can’t interfere with wheelchair mechanics.
All those considerations must come together when it comes to designing garments for this unique market.
“For me, as a part of the disability community, this is something extremely important,” Owen told TODAY. “People often look at our garments on a model and say ‘It’s exactly the same (as other clothes)’ when it's absolutely not, and in some ways that's a compliment.”
The company, which has customers all over the world, donates 10 percent of its sales towards building ramps that make communities more accessible for wheelchair users.