Meet DAWN Adaptive, Msia’s First Adaptive Clothing Brand Empowering People With Disabilities

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The very root of DAWN Adaptive stems from a place of passion as Usha Gopalan Nair, along with co-founder Bernard Benzamin Nathan, both have personally witnessed the adversities that come with living with disabilities.

The two as a joined force propelled forward to create DAWN Adaptive in hopes to build a community founded on innovation while promoting inclusivity, diversity and in their own words, creating ethical adaptive clothing designs that understand fashion as well as its function, with disabilities in mind.

Let us further introduce you to this stigma-shattering brand.

What is adaptive clothing?

In its essence, adaptive clothing refers to simplified and specially designed clothes made to ease dressing processes, which often prove to be a struggle for those with certain conditions.

While this is purpose-driven fashion, the clothes are not limited to a certain community- anyone looking to experience a quicker and easier dressing process may benefit from these products.

DAWN Adaptive utilises a series of technical and creative methods in their designs, incorporating items such as magnetic buttons and zippers, side opening pants, velcro and more.

The products

As evident in the photos, the products look just as comfortable and trendy as everyday clothing. We at JUICE are tempted to try one or two for ourselves. 😉

The thought and detail that goes into each piece definitely sets Dawn Adaptive apart from fast fashion brands.

The smile mask would be especially tempting, for those of you who want to show off your striking lipsticks and piercings while following SOPs. (P.S. it comes with adjustable ear loops!)

Let’s talk accomplishments.

On several occasions, DAWN Adaptive has proven to have successfully left an imprint on the fashion world- and not just on a national scale.

In 2021, amidst the pandemic, the brand has collaborated with several other business including Deaf In Business restaurant, Borneo Soap featuring soaps made by the deaf community in Sarawak, and Zip Zap KL, whereby the partnership was created in order to fundraise for adaptive shoes which were provided to PWDs.

In December last year, DAWN Adaptive also introduced their first disabled creative artist, and became the first adaptive clothing brand to storm the Selangor Fashion Week runway.

This year, the brand also partnered with another local designer to create Adaptive Batik Shirts with Furedi KL, and introduced their line of Ladies’ Adaptive Blouses in collaboration with another designer to create awareness of the need of adaptive clothing.

Message from creator

The founders also added that the designs are not created solely following aesthetic value, but with certain symbolisms in mind too.

“I chose a flower (for the Isaiah wrap dress) as my design as they can be destroyed but with eventually grow back. Even if it doesn’t, we can still make use of it, as decor, for pictures of even to have a bath with. It’s the same with humans- you can find other ways to have a purpose in life.”

Additionally, the colour scheme for the dress meshes tones of blue to represent trust, yellow for happiness and warmth and white to promote clarity.

“Yellow represents happiness and warmth, I think there are times where our happiness depends on the situation and we are able to feel warmth with the people that make us think that they are giving us warmth and happiness, but the truth is we don’t have to think that way, we are our own selves, we shouldn’t depend on the situation.”

“White represents clarity, which to me means, I must find a way to clear out my headspace every now and then to prevent it from being messy and all over the place, a way to stop, calm down and think positive and move forward,” they told us.

Usha Nair’s journey as a ‘special needs mum’

“When I realised the amount of care my daughter Ivanna, diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy- a motor disability that causes stiffness and trouble moving, needed rest of her life, I decided to quit my 9-5 job and start my new job- as a special needs mum.

As I navigated my way through this new life, I faced endless hurdles. I knew this world would be difficult for Ivanna, but I was determined to make it as normal as possible as it is for my older child Rheanna. The life of a special needs mum can be extremely rewarding and also extremely challenging.

Along with my new job role, I became disabled in my late 40’s; I now suffer from a severe form of scoliosis.

Day to day, there is a lot happening inside my body. Scoliosis gets progressively worse as you get older. With scoliosis, the biggest challenge I have with Ivanna is dressing.

Ivanna’s condition actually impacted her ability to do various daily tasks on her own. She struggles to do simple things that most of us take for granted, something simple as buttoning a shirt…. or even putting her hands through her sleeves.

Ivanna can’t dress and undress herself. As her caregiver, normal daily dressing becomes a difficult and tiring task and takes a great deal of time each day. Through my daughter, I noticed clothing does matter to everybody.

We say fashion is for all, but is it? There are 1 billion people around the globe that experience some type of disability. People with disabilities have been stigmatised. Disability has been linked to disease and helplessness, and in some cultures, disability is associated with ancestral curses.

We should understand that disability is part of the human condition and the only group that literally anybody could become part of it overnight. Disability can touch us at some point in our life,
either by ageing, diseases, accidents, or just by the fact that we are living longer.

Almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life. You can be part of this community in a blink of an eye. 80% of disable people are not born with disabilities and not all disabilities are visible.

As an adaptive/ inclusive fashion brand, we listen to different life experiences & give voice to those who have been marginalised.

At DAWN Adaptive, we aim to represent all people without excluding anyone. The idea behind our first design, the Magnetic Polo Tee, is to start the conversation about the importance of inclusivity within our fashion industry. We are making fashion accessible for everyone.

My personal experience with disability taught me the value of inclusivity in the fashion and proved that sometimes only simple adaptation needed to be made to benefit an underserved market.

We are not condensed down to who is our demographic. It’s bigger than that.”

Visit the DAWN Adaptive website for more info on the products and to find out how you can help make a difference.