These days, the fashion industry is making great strides to be more inclusive and representative of society— models are redefining traditional beauty and Madeline Stuart, who has down syndrome, is now a regular on the catwalk. But New Jersey mom and fashion designer Mindy Scheier noticed there was still something missing from today’s market: mainstream clothing that’s adapted for people with disabilities. In 2013, Scheier founded the nonprofit Runway of Dreams to work with designers to create those garments. Today Scheier and her team have reached a major milestone: Their first-ever fully adaptive collection with Tommy Hilfiger is officially available to shop right now.
Scheier started Runway of Dreams because her son Olivier, who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, didn’t have the option to wear the same types of clothing as his friends — zippers and fasteners were difficult for him to maneuver on his own.
“He really felt strongly about being able to wear jeans like the other kids,” Scheier tells PeopleStyle. “It didn’t even cross his mind that it wasn’t going to be an option for him. It shouldn’t have to be an option for anybody.”
For Scheier, Tommy Hilfiger was the perfect brand to partner with. “They’re very family oriented; they’re all-American; they represent so many important things within the industry,” she says.
She immediately began working with the brand’s technical design team to replace zippers and buttons with MagnaReady, a magnetic system, adjust pant and arm lengths and develop alternative ways of getting in and out of clothing.
“Our company has always embraced the diversity of our customers,” Gary Sheinbaum, the CEO of Tommy Hilfiger Americas says in a statement. “Runway of Dreams helped further our understanding of the differently-abled community’s unique needs, and with this knowledge, we hope that we will be able to better serve them.”
With a designer as well-known and recognized as Tommy Hilfiger for Runway of Dreams first collaboration, Scheier is hoping that more brands will want to create adaptive clothing. Still, she’s not focused on who she’ll collaborate with next.
“Honestly, the amazing thing about the differently-abled population is that it knows no age and it knows no socio-economical background. So I really don’t have a dream brand,” she says. “My dream is that everybody has a brand that works into their life and that no matter where you are in life in terms of what you can afford I hope that there’s an adaptive option out there for them.”
— Colleen Kratofil