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Research Highlights: Adaptive Apparel in the US


The market for adaptive apparel includes people with disabilities, people with mobility, sensory or motor processing difficulties and people undergoing certain types of medical treatment. Market growth is being driven by an increasing commitment by brands and retailers to the principle of inclusivity—providing equal access in various realms of society to people who had previously been excluded or marginalized. We believe that inclusivity is a key trend to watch in retail; it is a component trend of Coresight Research’s RESET framework for change, which provides retailers with a model for adapting to a new world marked by consumer-centricity.

Adaptive Apparel in the US: Three Key Insights

1. There Is a Need for Adaptive Apparel

We categorize disabilities into six types: ambulatory, cognitive, hearing, independent living, self-care and vision. More than half of survey respondents that have or care for someone with each type of disability reported that the disability makes wearing non-adaptive apparel more difficult (including putting on or taking off clothing or footwear).

Figure 1. Whether Their Disability Makes Wearing Non-Adaptive Clothing or Footwear More Difficult for Consumers, by Disability Type (% of Respondents Reporting Each Type of Disability)

Figure 1. Whether Their Disability
Base: 206 US respondents aged 18+ who have a disability or help to care for/shop for someone with a disability, surveyed in July 2022
Source: Coresight Research


2. Adaptive Apparel Shoppers Buy from Retailers That Offer Value

Within the past five years, the adaptive category has grown with mainstream retailers and brands launching adaptive apparel lines in addition to the adaptive brands that serve this space. The highest proportions of survey respondents with disabilities or who care for someone with a disability who purchase adaptive and non-adaptive apparel buy adaptive apparel at retailers that offer value. Walmart was the most popular retailer in the last 12 months, with 55% of shoppers purchasing adaptive apparel there, followed by Target at 34% and Kohl’s at 30%.

Our survey found that adaptive apparel shoppers buy from a wide range of brands and retailers—not solely specialist retailers. Furthermore, respondents reported significant cross-shopping at retailers that offer both adaptive and non-adaptive apparel, representing an opportunity for non-specialist brands and retailers to launch adaptive apparel lines.

3. Consumers with Disabilities Have Difficulty Finding Apparel To Meet Their Needs

Among respondents who have a disability or care for someone with a disability, 48% reported having challenges in finding apparel to meet their needs. Price and fit/size are the top challenges, each cited by at least three in five respondents who have challenges finding apparel. Retailers and brands should prioritize value and fit when considering adaptive consumers’ needs.

What We Think

We identify three reasons for brands and retailers to enter the adaptive apparel category:

  1. There is a need for adaptive clothing. More than half of surveyed consumers with disabilities or who for care for someone with a disability report that the disability makes wearing non-adaptive apparel more difficult.
  2. Respondents cross-shop retailers that have adaptive categories. This is a growth opportunity for non-specialist brands and retailers.
  3. The top challenges for finding adaptive apparel are price and fit/size. There is an opportunity for retailers and retailers to offer affordable products that fit well.

Read the full report, Think Tank: Adaptive Apparel in the US—2022 Survey Results Confirm Category Growth Opportunities.