Uniteable is launching an inclusive fashion line today.
The Austin, Texas-based brand, which will start with two styles of women’s pants for the launch, is designed for amputees, the chronically ill and women in wheelchairs. “It’s a very underserved market, and the primary audience for our product is in the disabled community,” said Brittany Burke, founder and CEO of Uniteable Inclusion Fashion.
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According to Burke, the company is on a mission to create a movement of inclusivity while providing fashionable, functional clothing for various body types and needs.
The first pant style is an adaptive skinny pant created to serve amputees who require access to their prosthetics, as well as the chronically ill so they can have overall easy dressing solutions. The second is a seated flare designed with wheelchair users in mind. The skinny is available in black and charcoal gray, and the seated flare in black.
Burke said the impetus for the line came when her brother was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and later became an amputee. “That really had a big impact on my family and me, and over time, I started to host different charity fashion shows and fundraisers and giving back to the community in honor of my brother. I began to form different relationships within the adaptive community. I just started to see some of the struggles when it came to the simple task of getting dressed and having easy dressing solutions and products that really worked for them,” Burke said.
She said she did more research and identified this big void, “and from there, I just knew I wanted to make an impact,” she said.
While Burke doesn’t have a design background, she does have one in fashion merchandising. She said she did a lot of surveying and communicating with the adaptive community and identified their top frustrations when it came to pants. From there, she identified viable solutions. She made prototypes and had the different individuals try on the pants to see what worked and what didn’t work.
Asked what the biggest frustrations were, she explained individuals who use a wheelchair said one of their biggest frustrations was waistbands slipping down in the back while seated. In the seated pair, she put in an anti-slip waistband that’s higher in the back and lower in the front and is also flexible and extends up to three inches. Other concerns were durability, when it comes to getting clothing stuck in the wheel, as well as sitting all day with uncomfortable seams and buttons. The pants are designed with no pockets on the back and seamless.
With the skinny pair, she said there are in-seam zippers that extend to the upper thigh so above the knee and below the knee amputees can have access to their prosthetics throughout the day to make adjustments. They’re also able to wear a fashionable skinny pant and be able to get in and out of them easily. They have a lot of stretch, and have zippers in the in-seam that alleviates concern that the pants might be too tight.
The line is manufactured in El Paso, Texas, but she plans to move it to where she’s based in Austin. Her advertising plan includes mostly Google and Instagram.
“Our entire brand is about inclusivity. From the product design to building a team and giving back to the community,” Burke said. She is giving 5 percent of all profits to several nonprofit organizations, namely Be More Adaptive, Spina Bifida Association of Greater New England and Steps of Fashion. Customers can choose which charity they want to benefit upon checkout.
Asked why she didn’t want to start with men’s pants that would be good for her brother, she said, “I do have plans to expand into men’s wear as well.” But for the launch, she felt that the female community was even more passionate about all their concerns and desires for this clothing.
Burke said she’s financing the business herself with her savings, and her family has loaned her money for the launch.
The pants, which are available online at uniteable.co, retail for $75. There are optional medical-grade zipper rings for $6. For people with issues with dexterity, the zipper rings help them unzip more easily. Sizes for the pants range from XS to XXL.
Burke said she’s in a good stock position for the launch. “As far as the demand, I did a lot of surveying and communicating with a lot of individuals in the space, and saw a very underserved market, a huge market and a demand so large. It’s not a competitive space. There are different adaptive brands emerging in this space,” she said, adding she’s happy that people with disabilities are being included in the conversation. Others in the adaptive space include IZ Adaptive, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Aerie.
For fall, Burke said she will be adding more pants and has plans to get into adaptive activewear and tops.
On Feb. 9, Burke launched an ambassador program of 70 women. They each received the product and they are sharing their insights on social media.
For now, the business is entirely direct to consumer. She plans explore adding wholesale partners later this year.