Adaptive fashion brand The Shapes United gains US foothold via Walmart

(Source: Inside Small Business)

Clothing brand The Shapes United has become the first Australian adaptive fashion label to be sold through US retail giant Walmart. 

The Shapes United has made its mark in the industry as an adaptive fashion brand, with a range of apparel designed for all people, including those living with a disability or mobility impairments. All its clothes feature adaptations such as wider openings, hook and loop closures, no tags and flat seams and come in sizes ranging from X-Small to 3XL. 

Founder and disability advocate Penny Weber described the partnership as a real ‘pinch me’ moment. 

“To have the world’s leading retailer acknowledge adaptive clothing and see the value in it, it’s a dream come true,” Weber said. “It demonstrates that accessibility is mainstream. With one in four Americans having a disability, then, access to functional and fashionable goods is a must.

“In Australia, The Iconic is leading the way with its adaptive category. This should be the norm,” Weber added. “Our stores should represent the people of our community and provide solutions for everybody. We are not that far behind America with one in five Australians with a disability. This is a large cohort of our community that are being underserviced. We aim to bridge this gap.”

The Shapes United and its sister brand, Recovawear, were inspired by Weber’s personal experience with limited mobility as she was paralysed on the left side of her body due to a serious car accident. 

“It’s a different situation to the old, ‘I have nothing to wear’ conundrum,” Weber said. “I was 32 and I literally had nothing to wear. I couldn’t dress myself, and I knew this was the reality for many others. I was surprised there was nothing available. I am grateful to be in the position to assist people to have the ability to dress themselves and to dress how they want.”

Working with the Remarkable startup accelerator in 2021, a division of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, gave Weber the opportunity to create and market fashionable and inclusive clothes to fill the need in the market for a diverse range of clothing options that were more inclusively designed. 

Remarkable’s founder, Pete Horsley, said the brand is providing options that have previously been lacking.

“The Shapes United really does address a gap in the market and this is a global problem,” Horsley said. “Whether it be a temporary impairment or lifelong disability, everyone should have the opportunity to choose what they wear and to feel great wearing it.” 

The Shapes United has gained recognition through being awarded the Australia Post Local Business Hero Award 2023 against a record number of applicants for the award.

“It’s amazing to see our hard work is paying off,” Weber averred. “The Shapes United is now on the Walmart website and anyone can order through there, as well as TSU Online shop and through Averee, Hello Good World, Better That and The Iconic.”

The Shapes United launched on Walmart online on National Disability Independence Day in the US on July 26.

This story was originally published on Inside Small Business.

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