In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Molly Rogers and Emma Clegg, Co-founders of JAM The Label, producing adaptive and inclusive fashionable clothing. Both women are Occupational Therapists with extensive experience in disability support and in their jobs, they were witnessing daily struggles with mainstream garments. Despite having no experience in the fashion industry, they launched JAM The Label in 2019, took part in this year’s Australian Fashion Week and have recently partnered with The Iconic. In this chat we discuss the solutions that Molly & Emma have come up with to meet the needs of adaptive fashion, the mainstream brands who are doing it best in this space and what tech applications eCommerce business can implement to really nail inclusivity.
“We want to provide inclusive options for people with disability within the mainstream fashion industry and not provide options that segregate them further.“Emma Clegg
Questions answered in this episode include…
- How have you managed going from OT’s to fashion designers?
- How do you market your products when you are addressing such a wide variety of needs?
- How can eCommerce businesses make their processes more accessible?
Solving a problem
“Molly and I are both occupational therapists that work in the disability sector and we’re also disability support workers, and when we were at uni together studying to become OTs, Molly worked with a young boy called Jack and I worked with a young girl called Maddie, and we decided that they didn’t… Sorry, we didn’t have to choose between function and fashion when we were young teenagers or young adults. So, why should Jack and Maddie? So, we created JAM after Jack and Maddie.
Jack and I would be out walking and the weather would obviously change very quickly and I’d need to sort of whack a jacket on him quite quickly and sort of help him with that, but getting a jacket onto Jack, he’s a wheelchair user and has all sorts of different things in the way that make putting a jacket on very difficult, so I could sort of pop my jacket on really easily, but for Jack I’d often have to either put a hoodie on sort of backwards and have the hood hanging down the front or have a blanket over him.
Emma and I were always just like, “That’s so sort of degrading, I don’t walk around with a blanket over me when I’m out in public, so why should Jack have to?” So, the first item we created was a jacket that’s designed to be put on and taken off really easily when someone’s sitting in their wheelchair.”
“A friend of mine, her boyfriend’s a support worker and he bought a shirt for one of his clients, a magnetic shirt, and he gave it to him on the day of their Christmas party. The guy was quite apprehensive beforehand and was a bit nervous about going to this Christmas party, but when he was able to do his shirt up for the first time by himself, he was so proud and felt so cool and went to the party and was just showing everyone his shirt and talking to everyone about his shirt and he said it was just such a massive change and it made his night.
So, I think it’s stories like that where it seems like such a small thing, but it makes such a difference to someone’s self-expression and confidence, so that was one really nice one.”
Just ask the question
(Emma) “It’s obviously a bigger societal issue why people aren’t so confident with interacting with people with disability, but I think one of those things is that often people with disability, the businesses that provide to them, have been so segregated for so long. So if you don’t know someone with a disability or have a disability yourself, then you’ve never engaged with businesses that also employ people with disability or represent people with disability or provide other services and products that are for people with disabilities.
So then, what is your interaction with people with disability? You’re basing it off movies and TV shows and everything like that. And so, you aren’t going to be as confident because you’ve never had that interaction before.”
(Molly) “I think a lot of people are scared of sort of that cancel culture, and if you say one the wrong thing, then the whole community will be against you, but I think someone’s going to be so much happier if you’re like, “Hey, sorry, I’m not really sure, do you have any accessibility needs?” Or, “Hey, I don’t really know how to go about this, what would you suggest?”
Links from the episode:
- JAM The Label
- The Iconic
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Dylan Alcott
- Get Skilled Access
- Shopify Plus and Mustard Made (sponsored)
- Packleo (sponsored)
This episode was brought to you by…