Name: Faduma Farah
Claim To Fame: Farah has appeared on the runway at London Fashion Week.
Faduma Farah found herself on a runway as the face of a fight for adaptable fashion. “I began designing adaptive wear because I’m a wheelchair user myself. I became disabled ten years ago, I got meningitis,” she told HelloBeautiful.
“It became very difficult for me to find something to wear. So I decided to do something about it.”
The mother of two created a fellowship that offers different designers the opportunity to “to bring to life a collection with wheelchair users at its heart.” It has partnered with the Oxford Fashion Studio and other organizations. Its goal “is to inspire designers, design educational institutions, the fashion industry as a whole and the media that covers it to see, acknowledge and embrace wheelchair users. So that all wheelchair users can participate in, and see themselves rightly reflected in, this joyful aspect of our shared cultural life.”
Recipients of the fellowship make the clothing adaptable through the use of smart design techniques and intentional details like “magnetic buttons” “relocated pockets”, ‘breathable fabric”, “hidden seams,” and “adaptive friendly waistbands.”
This year the fellowship was awarded to Harriet Eccleston. The collection featured a ton of one of Farah’s favorite colors: purple. She rocked it during her appearance as the featured model in the show. She was inspired to speak out by the previous activism experience she got with what she learned from her Somali family. She served as a proud “advocate for my community,” prior to championing for adaptable attire.
“In my family, I’m the first child and my mother taught me to be a strong woman,” she said. “And so now I have become disabled so I guess my journey has taken me in the same direction.”
She grew up finding models like Iman and Khadija Adams “wildly beautiful.”
“I never thought of becoming a model myself,” she admitted. “And when I was rolling down the runway I thought mother we did it!”
Her recently departed mother encouraged her to take the leap. “She asked me, “My darling daughter, who are you waiting for? If you want to change, you’ve got to do the change yourself. And I just thought, why not,” she said. She was not waiting alone.
“On the runway I had six models for the first time in England,” she said. That stat is not reflective of the people worldwide in need of adaptable options.
According to a report published by “The global adaptive clothing market is estimated to surpass US$ 392.67 Billion by 2026.” But the fashion industry does not always cater to fiscal opportunities and despite the apparent value disabled consumers continue to be left behind. Celebrities including Selma Blair have spoken out about their struggles finding clothing to accommodate their needs.
Part of what is needed to improve options is increased education. Design schools do not always prioritize adaptability in their practical instructions. “Designing clothes for wheelchairs is not easy because you have to think of all the pressure points,” said Farah.
She wants the wearers of the clothes she co-designs and models to receive joy from them. “I want them to feel stylish. I want them to feel lively. I want them to feel bubbly. I want them to feel happiness,” she said.
She does not want their style restrained by a lack of options.
“I don’t want them to feel, I can’t go to a function because I don’t have anything to wear.”