All tagged disability consumer
Since launching in early 2017, Zebedee Management has become the UK’s first modelling agency to exclusively represent people with physical and learning disabilities. With clients including luxury womenswear brand Teatum Jones and popular high-street stores like River Island and H&M, they are fast proving that diverse casting is the future. Founded by sisters-in-law Zoe Proctor and Laura Johnson from Sheffield, the idea for their agency arose during a discussion about the severe lack of opportunities for people with disabilities. According to the pair, it was truly “a light bulb moment” while out walking their dogs. In reality, this shared desire to champion diversity was by no means a spur of the moment decision, rather it was a culmination of years working in parallel industries; where Laura is a qualified social worker with a wealth of experience working with vulnerable adults and children, Zoe is a performing arts teacher specialising in teaching people with disabilities.
The role of the CEO in a brand is very important in making conscious transformations in the company. The barriers between CEO and shop floor create dominant social structures in house, which in turn hamper conscious structures of societies. Communication barriers and no personal involvement of the top team with shop floor pushes them to engage in practices that does not support transformative power of the organization in a positive way. All shop floors can hear is the economic growth driven voice of the CEO and they work towards luring customers to spend and consume unconsciously. Although one can argue that brands priorities are in keeping up with trends and current lifestyles of consumers, isn’t there a way they can use it towards transforming lifestyles? While sales driven autonomous corporations and economic growth driven governments think that fostering conspicuous consumers to buy more and more seems like a victory to them, it is not.
The Department for Works and Pensions has announced that it will be recruiting a fashion industry disability champion to address the challenges disabled people encounter as consumers. Coinciding with International Day of Persons with Disabilities last Monday, the Government revealed that there will be six new disability champions across fashion, technology, countryside and heritage, website accessibility, food and drink and product design. These new recruits are set join the existing 14 champions who are currently driving improvements to the accessibility of services in a range of sectors, including banking, music, tourism, leisure and media.
One in five people in the UK has a form of disability or impairment, and collectively these individuals are recognised as having a spending power of £249 billion. Now known as the ‘purple pound’, this staggering sum of money isn’t entering into the UK economy because of the many physical barriers which prevent those with disabilities from fulfilling their potential as consumers. Research carried out by the disability charity Purple revealed that nearly 50% of disabled shoppers have given up on making a purchase because of poor customer service. The aim of Purple Tuesday, which takes place on 13 November during the pre-Christmas shopping period, is to make retailers more conscious of this untapped consumer group.
Last month Marks & Spencer was hailed as ground-breaking following the launch of its new adaptive clothing range for children with disabilities. The “Adapted for Easy Dressing” line includes everything from trousers and shorts with poppers (instead of zips), T-shirts with soft velcro fastenings at the back of the neck and dresses with discreet pockets for a feeding tube.
Over the past year, the fashion industry has made huge strides to becoming more inclusive, committing itself to represent a wide spectrum of genders, ethnicities and cultures. However, there is one consumer group that remains severely underrepresented- individuals with disabilities. The release of Grazia’s Big Fashion Issue this week aimed to address this exclusion.
Fashion Roundtable is committed to highlighting the lack of disability representation throughout the fashion industry. You might assume this only applies to fashion campaigns which almost exclusively feature able-bodied models, and as a result disregard the aesthetic potential of the disabled body. But in reality, fashion’s poor track record for representing disabilities runs far deeper that the images we see promoted across fashion media.
There are still many logistical barriers facing less-abled individuals, like myself, who want to access fashion but simply cannot due to inadequate provision in retail spaces- this encompasses anything from insufficient staff training, to physical obstacles (such as stairs, no seating, queues and inaccessible clothing rails). A study by the Extra Costs Commission revealed that 75% of disabled customers have left a shop because of poor service or access, and that UK companies risk losing £420 million a week in sales.
Lottie Jackson explores how AR can help disabled customers.