Adaptive Fashion Shakes Up Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia
I am very excited to share this piece with you as I cover a subject that is very close to so many of us: Diversity, and Inclusivity. Growing up in Russia, I felt that this segment of disabled people was rather misrepresented and had a lack of opportunities to thrive in society.
With a global population of over 1 billion people with disabilities, this fragment has been overlooked for decades by the fashion industry in Russia and abroad. Thankfully these trends continue to change for the better. Nowhere was this movement of inclusivity more evident than at the recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia that I visited in October of last year.
The 37th season of MBFWRussia took everyone by surprise with its wheelchair models and adaptive technology clothing collections. Russia has emerged as a leader in bringing fashion and technology to the disabled. In Russia alone, its estimated that more than 13 million people have a disability.
Fashion has the capability to improve the functioning and independence of people with mobility, hearing, vision or communication impairments. It also has the potential to transform this underserved market and accelerate Russia’s growing economy.
The Fashion Week has a history of showcasing new ways of seeing and experiencing fashion. The show has made several world firsts, among them the collections of Bezgraniz Couture who since 2008 has shown clothing adapted to disabilities. Last year Virtual Reality demonstrations showed how this technology will transform the consumer shopping and buying experience.
This time, technology was taken a step further by Moscow’s Technological Institute Professor Sergey Kornauhov with smart technology that can interact with conditions like lack of muscle movement in one’s hand. Intelligence built into fabrics can provide full motion in fingers or engage computerized seeing allowing a blind person to experience some of the beauty of the world around them.
In part, this work is enabled with collaboration among business leaders and academics from around the globe who share their vision and research.
Encouraged by the atmosphere of creativity and collaboration, Kseniya Bezuglova one of the biggest activists from Russia for people with disabilities was brought on to debut a line of clothing named I-Inclusive, designed specifically for wheelchair users. The functional and fashion-forward collection was an emotional and inspiring event.
Russia and its new designers and business leaders are at the forefront of the fashion world to embrace the potential of smart fashion. The goal is to address the needs of a diverse and growing population of people. Specifically helping physically challenged humans to achieve independence, social integration, and personal expression through fashion.
This positive initiative inspires me and I can not wait to see what further developments it will bring to the disabled community in Russia and around the world.
Thank you for reading,