There is increasing awareness of the need for adaptive clothing in India, but
there are hardly any brands that provide for people with disabilities and the elderly.
With her range named Aaraam Se, Kochi-based designer Ashima Bhan is looking to fill this void.
Based in Kochi, Kerala, Ashima Bhan, a designer, is well known
for her affordable collection of casual and comfortable women’s wear. That is exactly what  her new range of adaptive wear, Aaraam Se, promises.  For people with disabilities and the elderly, it is simple to wear, fashionable and confident.

The idea for Aaraam Se, which is Hindi for ‘with ease’, was born of a suggestion made by a friend. “When the big players came in and took over the fashion market space, I was looking for alternative ideas”, says Ashima. “Someone suggested adaptive clothing and I thought ‘Wow’, it’s a market that no one thought of”.

That is precisely the mindset barrier facing disabled people and the elderly in India.
Few apparel brands consider them as clients, even with their substantial presence. Adaptive apparel remains largely unexplored, except for a few designers.

Major Indian fashion brands ignore needs of PwD

Something Lalit Gambhir, who is based in Gurugram, feels strongly about. “There is a huge vacuum when it comes to adaptive wear”. Lalit’s brother, who is 52 years old, has mental retardation (MR), an outcome of a meningitis attack he suffered as a baby. “My brother lives with me and I am constantly struggling for everything from clothes to diapers”, says Lalit, who has reached out to Ashima for some of his needs. “I have no idea how disabled people and their caregivers in India manage. There are so many challenges. I feel we are the most irresponsible country in the world as far as people with disabilities are concerned”.

The Aaraam Se selection of designs isn’t just practical. They look sleek and fashionable as well as offering functional features such as snap buttons and rear openings. The buttoning along the shoulder is easy, with metal snap buttons. These prevent the consumer from getting a pressure point and look fantastic from a design point of view. There are kurtas, tops, night gowns and zippered legs on pants.

Aaraam Se offers customised designs

“The need for such wear hits you hard when one realises the vast number of people who are just not considered”, adds Ashima. She wants to build a platform on social media where people with disabilities can share their clothing needs. “I want to throw this open to the public and this can help create empathy”, she adds.

The Aaraam Se selection of designs isn’t just practical. They look sleek and fashionable as well as offering functional features such as snap buttons and rear openings. The buttoning along the shoulder is easy, with metal snap buttons. These prevent the consumer from getting a pressure point and look fantastic from a design point of view. There are kurtas, tops, night gowns and zippered legs on pants.

 

Among the people Ashram is working with to develop new designs is Vipin Janardhanan. Vipin, 39 years old, lives in Bengaluru and has cerebral palsy. “I am so happy that Ashima is looking into this. For instance, I struggle with wearing socks and it takes me a long time to wear them on my own. It’s high time the needs of people with disabilities are looked into”.