Designers launch collaboration for Australian Fashion Week

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Award-winning designer and disability advocate Carol Taylor has announced that she will be teaming up with fellow adaptive fashion designer Jessie Sadler, with Sadler’s label to showcase their new designs at this year’s AFTERPAY Australian Fashion Week in May.

Sadler and Taylor have spent years following each other’s success, deciding to team up this year to change the portrayal of “mainstream fashion.”

Sadler launched his label Christina Stephens in March 2020, quitting her job as an energy expert to pursue adaptive fashion options and designs after seeing the difficulty her mother faced first-hand trying to dress herself unassisted after a fall in 2017.

She says Women’s program how she couldn’t find clothes that “didn’t look like a hospital gown” for her mother.

“The options were disappointing,” Sadler said. “I didn’t realize adaptive clothing was such a non-existent category.”

Although a fifth of Australians live with a disability, Sadler realized that there was a shortage of beautiful, quality and trendy fashion available for those who needed suitable designs.

Ultimately, Sadler wants her brand of adaptive and inclusive clothing to be seen as “mainstream.”

“Christina Stephens, as a label, has always been about collaboration rather than competition,” Sadler said. “If we want to see real progress in mainstream fashion, it starts with working as ‘one’.”

Since 2020, her brand has quadrupled retail revenue and increased wholesale and dropship revenue by 300%. It is now selling on THE ICONIC and will be shown in May during Afterpay’s Australian Fashion Week (AAFW), as part of the Adaptive Clothing Collective show.

Carol Taylor describes partnering with Sadler as a natural next step for her career. Prior to becoming a designer, Taylor worked as a solicitor at Taylor Law & Conveyancing, a regional law firm based in Tallebudgera, Queensland.

On July 9, 2001, Taylor and her husband were driving home from a weekend in the Blue Mountains near Sydney when the car hit ice, causing the car to roll. Taylor’s spinal cord was severed, leaving her a quadriplegic.

She continued to do what she loved: painting, creating and later designing her own clothes.

“I’ve always loved fashion, even since I was a kid, and having an injury didn’t change that,” Taylor said. “Fashion affects our basic sense of identity, confidence and how the outside world treats us.”

“I may be on wheels, but fashion keeps me going.

“That moment when I started wearing color and finding, designing and making clothes to feel like the person I was before the injury, it was cathartic. It changed me – and I put you on the path to good mental health. That’s how powerful clothes are.

Taylor also contributed an essay to we have that, the first major disabled parenting anthology published in Australia earlier this year, where she shared her stories of parenting with a disability.

Three years ago, Taylor was invited to show her collection at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival in Brisbane, and this year she joins the Sadler brand as part of the Adaptive Clothing Collective show.

“I was very aware of Jessie and the amazing things she was doing,” Taylor said. “In the end, we decided that collaborating was much better than competing.”

Sadler says his collaboration with Taylor is an evolution of the Christina Stephens label.

“We worked on completely new, exciting and challenging pieces,” Sadler said. “Christina Stephens’ classic style is still central to our design ethos, but now Carol is bringing the color and glamor into our designs that our customers have been asking for.

“We pay more attention to people with specific conditions and abilities, so our designs are universal.”

Taylor added that the designs are revealing, unexpected and provocative. “There’s something very special that’s been designed for the girl who can’t get up,” she said.

“I always say to my son – nothing ever changes if everything stays the same. I hope this collection does that.

“It’s a big market. Retailers like Myer, David Jones need to realize this is a sought after product. People want that. Build it and they will come.

Sadler will participate in a panel titled “Empowering Voices: Fashion’s Cultural Impact on Representation and Inclusion” at AAFW on May 9 at 4:30 p.m. To find tickets here. You can also attend the AAFW Adaptive Clothing group show on May 12, 2022. tickets here.

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