“I know how I feel when I put on a nice pair of pants, shirt and jacket. I feel confident, have a bounce in my step and feel like I can tackle the world. My friends with disabilities are no different. They want to wear clothes that make them feel amazing. They want to wear clothes so they fit in with everyone else. That is the inspiration for creating EveryHuman,” says Matthew Skerritt founder of adaptive clothing company EveryHuman.
Skerritt first discovered the need for EveryHuman whilst working in his family’s aged care business.
“Our family has been involved in the aged care space since the year I was born, which is how I came across adaptive clothing, he explains.
While there was existing adaptive clothing available for people living with disabilities, Skerritt said Australians living with disabilities were faced with limited choices One in five Australians have a disability. Many of these people face obstacles when dressing with ordinary clothing due to mobility or dexterity issues or sensory sensitivity.
“I’ve seen how this can result in large customisation costs and how frustrating it can be for some people. And that just shouldn’t be the case. There was very little on offer where fashion meets functionality,” Skerritt said.
“Speaking to friends with disabilities and hearing the passion people have for needing greater choice with adaptive clothing that is also fashionable, I decided to pivot on aged care and focus towards people with disabilities. I’m so passionate about trying to improve the lives of people by offering a product that people love and is life-changing. It is something that I connected with on a personal level.”
While Skerritt doesn’t have a background in fashion, what he lacked in experience he made up for with passion and purpose.
“I saw a problem, where fashion and disability didn’t go hand-in-hand when there is every reason they should,” he said.
“People with disabilities should have the exact same choice as an able bodied person. Rather than adapting to clothes, EveryHuman is now offering fashion that adapts to them. Simply put – EveryHuman is now empowering people to independently express themselves through fashion and achieve their dreams by making life a little easier.”
Skerritt truly believes EveryHuman’s products are lifechanging.
“We hope to facilitate self-expression and style. Imagine a wheelchair user that can now wear a suit, jeans, or a trendy pair of high-top sneakers they love, rather than having to wear a pair of ‘trackies’ because it’s easy and comfortable. It instils confidence. They can be proud of who they are and can step into the world as themselves. That is powerful stuff. Additionally, from a functional perspective, adaptive clothing goes a long way to alleviate reliance on others when dressing.
“People have been shouting out for a platform like EveryHuman for so long. We have found people are so grateful and supportive about what we are doing, which is what makes launching this business so much fun.”
Of course, no matter how great the idea, bringing a new business to fruition is not without challenges.
“We know that we have a great product, however since we are the first platform to offer these types of products in the Australian & New Zealand market, there is also a large education piece that has come with our launch. Many people who require this type of clothing do not even know that it exists; which results in them customising standard clothing or making do with current options. Our education piece is focused around our consumers, occupational therapists and disability organisations.”
To ensure EveryHuman is providing its customers with clothing and footwear that in functional and stylish, Skerritt is working with a number of adaptive brands not usually stocked in Australia.
“We work with adaptive brands who have made subtle adjustments to mainstream fashion; replacing buttons with magnetic closures, designing clothing for the seated position and creating shoes that are AFO friendly or have one handed zippers that replace laces.
While Skerritt acknowledges adaptive clothing is not a new concept – people have been creating small lines, because they had their own personal needs for years – he says upon scrutiny of the existing market he soon realised the products left a lot to be desired.
“The products on offer had a medical focus rather than fashion focus and the options on offer were a poor quality. There was no money spent on making the clothes feel ‘sexy’. So there was a situation where people weren’t wearing adaptive clothing because it didn’t look like a mainstream product.
“We have brought the leading adaptive clothing brands from around the world to Australia & New Zealand for the first time. Our brands, have mastered the art of designing clothes that are mainstream in appearance, while also being modified with very subtle adaptive elements.”
In 2020 Skerritt says inclusiveness is vitally important people in the community and fashion should reflect this.
“We want to try and get the fashion industry to have a more inclusive mindset when it comes to disability, whether it be when designing, on the runway or on the pages of mainstream magazines. We have seen the fashion industry become more inclusive with plus-sized fashion. I’m really excited to see brands move in that direction for people of all abilities.”