Adaptive fashion marketplace entrepreneur Alexandra Connell Herold ’10 led a virtual conversation about fashion accessibility featuring noted disability rights activist Judy Heumann and a panel of adaptive fashion and disability advocates.
Alexandra Connell Herold ’10, creator of adaptive fashion marketplace Patti + Ricky, recently hosted a virtual panel discussion with international disability rights activist and author Judy Heumann on breaking fashion barriers.
Heumann served as assistant secretary of education for special education and rehabilitative services under President Bill Clinton and special adviser for international disability rights under President Barack Obama. She is the author of Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist and is featured in the Netflix documentary Crip Camp.
Herold, who describes herself as “a self-advocate who has always dreamed of being an activist,” suggested that in order for fashion to be truly inclusive, “we need more people to have their voice at the table and be involved in the design process.” Heumann agreed. “It’s important that we’re able to get more people into the field who are designers and marketers who understand the breadth of the people they’re designing for,” she said.
The panel discussion also included Patti + Ricky’s in-house adaptive fashion influencer team, consisting of advocate and founder of Give Beauty Wings Xian Horn, adaptive fashion blogger Molly Farrell, founder and cohost of Fashionably Tardy Natalie Trevonne and disability lifestyle specialist Cienna Ditri. Members of the panel verbally described their outfits, environments, disabilities and any mobility devices they use, while ASL interpreters provided translation services during the Facebook Live event held on Dec. 7.
The group discussed the challenges of finding clothing and accessories that work for their disability and that are also work-appropriate, affordable and stylish, as well as having to maintain favorite items for years because they can be so hard to come by.
While finding the right shoes can be particularly challenging, Herold announced a recent partnership between Patti + Ricky and Zappos Adaptive, an extension of the popular online shoe marketplace that offers a wide range of adaptive footwear.
Although shopping — in store or online — can be difficult to navigate for someone with a disability, Herold noted that her website offers a styling experience where she and two of the women on her team work directly with a shopper over the phone or through video chat to discuss Patti + Ricky products. “I like the personal attention, getting to talk with people about their style, their closet and their beauty routine,” she said.
Heumann discussed the need for fashion to be inclusive and intergenerational, designed for people of all ages and disabilities. “We want to look good,” she said. “We want clothes that fit us, that are easy for us to get on and off or have people help us — and have people tell us we look good.”
Herold thanked Heumann for her insight, her lifetime of activism and for “embodying inclusion.”