D-Generated Conversations: Inclusive fashion with Rut Turró and Marina Vergés
During this month of May, the Disseny Hub has hosted the third edition of the D-Generated Days: an annual event to reflect on the representation of bodies in art and their relationship with fashion and gender. In this edition we have had the participation of eight expert voices in the fields of sociology, design, art history and gender studies.
To keep this debate going, in this interview we go deeper into one of the main themes of this edition with the inclusive design expert, Rut Turró and the fashion stylist, Marina Vergés. We talk about accessible and inclusive fashion.
Marina Vergés is a fashion editor in men’s magazines; a master’s and professional training teacher on the history and trends of men’s fashion; and co-founder of Free Form Style, an adaptive fashion brand for people with various types of mobility impairments.
What gave you the idea of creating your Free Form Style brand?
The idea came from a personal need: dressing my partner’s brother, who had had a stroke and was 85% physically disabled. It was difficult to find clothes for him. We didn’t like the fabrics and patterns. We bought a pair of trousers and adapted them: we took out the pockets, we changed the zip for velcro, we put some elastic on the back, etc. When he saw himself dressed in a pair of trousers and a t-shirt (which was also “revamped”), his smile was so beautiful and happy, and we were told that we had to make more clothes for him and other people with the same needs.
You are taking part in the FAD’s Sustainable Challenge, at the activities taking place at the Museu del Disseny, at 080... do you think there is an interest in accessible fashion themes?
Yes, I think so. There is more attention being given to it now. We have to take advantage of this moment in which “we are fashionable” to promote accessible fashion, fashion for everyone. The number of fashion students interested in inclusive and adaptive fashion is growing each year. This, together with the theme of body diversity, has given us more acclaim.
Do you think that the media is placing greater importance on models and designers who are work taking into account different disabilities?
This year, within the 080 Barcelona Fashion Week, we have organised the first fashion show in Spain with inclusive fashion and adapted to models with different disabilities. All this, within the framework of a fashion week. It has been a real hit! The media got really involved and we have not stopped giving interviews. We wanted these models to be seen. They are people like you and me who need attractive and comfortable clothes, and I think the media have understood this very well.
The expert in inclusive design and fashion accessibility, Rut Turró, is the CEO and founder of MovingMood, the first consultancy specialising in giving advice and training to companies and institutions on design, accessibility and fashion. She has twenty-two years of experience researching the subject of textiles and disability and she has received many awards both in Spain and internationally.
In your long career as a designer and business consultant on accessibility and inclusive fashion, do you get the feeling that things are changing?
Very much so. Everything evolves and the market requires it. Since the pandemic, diversity and inclusion has grown more in all fields, either because of the need to innovate companies, to seek added value or simply because of the social and economic value it entails. It is a market to be exploited, there is a lack of inclusive and accessible clothing lines and accessories in most shops. At MovingMood, we didn’t have as much demand back in 2016 as we do now.
You say that accessible fashion is for everyone. How would you explain that each person has different abilities and capabilities, and that they must be able to dress to their own taste and feel comfortable?
Well, first we should differentiate between ‘inclusive’, 'adaptive’ and ‘accessible’. Inclusive fashion is one that the majority of people can use without it having to be adjusted or altered. Adaptive fashion, on the other hand, is adjusting it to a specific need, such as for people who use catheters or breathing tubes. At a more understandable level, almost everyone adjusts the bottom hems on their trousers to their height. We adapt them so they look better on us. Accessibility is universal because we all age and lose physical, cognitive and sensory faculties. It is about giving access. When you design accessible products, everyone can use them. In reality, we all benefit from accessibility, it makes life easier and more straightforward.