Author’s Blurb: I usually tend to take many of my abilities for granted until one day I can’t use them for a period of time due to injury. It gives me a better understanding of how those who are born without specific abilities or who have lost them due to illness feel.
Have you ever woken up, put on a button-down shirt and thankful your fingers are able to skillfully close the buttons?
It’s safe to say that many of us take this for granted.
Usha’s daughter, Ivanna is a bubbly and curious girl who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was just a baby.
This impacted her ability to perform minute daily chores on her own, including buttoning her shirts.
From this experience, Usha realized that there was a bigger problem: many other Malaysians with disabilities find it difficult to access easy-to-wear and fashionable clothes.
Dictionary time: Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
On the other hand, Usha’s friend and co-founder Bernard was diagnosed with type 3 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) at the age of 2.
Dictionary time: Type 3 spinal muscular atrophy is a rare disease characterized by muscle weakness resulting from the degeneration and loss of the lower motor neurons in the spinal cord and the nuclei of the brainstem.
The two immediately clicked when they met one day, having the same idea of creating an adaptive clothing line that could cater for people with disabilities. This idea would manifest itself later as Dawn Adaptive.
Catering to community with different abilities
Launched on June 14, 2019, Dawn Adaptive makes inclusive clothing that anyone can wear, inspiring confidence and self-expression.
Their first and only product, the Magnetic Polo Tee, is designed to make dressing faster and easier, especially for people with stroke disabilities, the elderly with Parkinson’s disease and the infirm, for example. .
Since there were no Malaysian brands in this market before Dawn Adaptive, the duo turned to a lot of overseas adaptive clothing from the US, UK and Singapore.
However, they found that it all cost a bomb (RM200-500 per item of clothing) for the average worker, especially after adding up shipping costs.
“We weren’t very happy with that, because we believe that the right clothes are something essential for a person who could really use them. He shouldn’t be overvalued to make a profit in business, ”said Bernard.
To start, they surveyed how much people were willing to spend, as well as what styles and types of clothing they preferred.
They didn’t have to look far for respondents as Bernard had a previous relationship with his talent and modeling agency, DON Management, which works with and launches alternative models and different abilities.
Assemble an inclusive product together
The Magnetic Polo t-shirt is super easy to wear. Magnets are sewn along the inside of the t-shirt and all you have to do is put them together.
Since there are still regular buttons on the outside, it looks like you are wearing another common T-shirt.
Finding the right magnet was not easy and the team spent precious time and money to make sure it was a good fit.
They couldn’t be too strong, otherwise they would make dressing harder and not too weak, or the shirts would pull open with a little tug.
The magnets are permanent and will not lose their magnetism until they are exposed to temperatures of 80 ° C and above, and as long as they are not interrupted.
Unfortunately, in the unlikely event that the shirt tears and the magnets fall off, they recommend getting a new shirt as they don’t sell replacement magnets separately.
One of the only groups that the Magnetic Polo Tee does not address are those with pacemakers, as the magnets could cause disruption and lead to death in the worst case.
Going forward, Dawn Adaptive plans to offer clothing with Velcro, zippers and more.
Taking the extra effort to be as truly inclusive as possible, Dawn Adaptive also sews their T-shirt labels to the side rather than behind the neck area.
“This is because people with autism have sensitive sensory issues, and these little details are very important to them to give them a comfortable wearing experience,” Bernard explained.
More to add to the adaptive clothing line
To date, Dawn Adaptive has sold nearly 100 t-shirts since inception. Priced at RM 89.90, the magnetic polo t-shirt can be purchased from their website and Shopee.
The team aims to go international and become the leading adaptive clothing brand in Asia, and maybe even Europe one day.
Although they currently only have the shirt that is aimed at adults, they will be expanding the clothing line in the future and for different age groups as well. Bernard shared: “We have a lot of requests for children’s ranges and also adapted pants.”
Besides selling inclusive clothing, Dawn Adaptive also aims to create work opportunities for economically disadvantaged groups, helping qualified people with disabilities to be part of the company’s growth.
For example, the company logo was created by Loga Rajah, a talented graphic designer diagnosed with reduced mobility.
“Usha believes the fashion industry needs to become more inclusive of people with disabilities, from the design process, from marketing campaigns to the retail experience and customer service,” said Bernard.
Conclusion: Having had carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand before where it was so numb that I couldn’t even use chopsticks or tie my watch, I can certainly see how having a quick and easy magnetic closure in clothes would be of a benefit. lifeline for those living with long term motor difficulties.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Dawn Adaptive
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