We are still celebrating spring with an article series to help you spring clean for sustainability, inclusivity and functional design. This final instalment of our series deals with the essence of inclusivity, the Spice of Life. We spoke to our fellow woman founder, Claire Common, a socialpolitical fashion designer and Inclusivity Coach from Mannheim, Germany. While we strive to create optimal protective athletic activewear for women and gender-diverse athletes, Claire is dedicated to designing fashion for EVERY.BODY. Get ready to broaden your pallet as Claire unveils why inclusivity can enrich us all.


How Needs-Based Design can help shape the Sociopolitical Discourse


Claire Common established her eponymous fashion label in 2022 with a profound mission: to weave inclusivity into the very fabric of her designs. Rooted in her childhood dreams of creating something that can make a difference, Claire's epiphany came during a university open house, where her fashion presentation ignited curiosity among disinterested visiting high-school students. Recognizing the transformative power of fashion in shaping sociopolitical discourse, Claire seized the opportunity to turn her passion into purpose.


What I like most about my work is that design that is perceived as unique can trigger new thoughts and result in people learning something new and increasing their understanding of people who are different from them.


Today, inclusivity is the basis of her fashion label, which features clothing for people with and without disabilities, providing equal opportunities for everyone. Similar to our design process, Claire begins her design process by identifying needs. She speaks to people with disabilities to learn which problems her designs should solve. Her findings affect different aspects of her designs. One is material choices, which have to work for people who might get dressed with the help of others. Design patterns are also affected, as they must work for a diverse group of people, no matter if they are using a wheelchair, might have a disabled limb or have no bodily disabilities at all. The result is unusual designs that can start conversations.


What Inclusive Fashion Can Look Like - Redefining Style and Accessibility


The heart of Claire's vision lies in a deep desire to educate through fashion. Her designs blur the lines between conventional norms, offering a universal appeal that transcends limitations. Whether you navigate the world with or without disabilities, Claire's creations beckon you to embrace uniqueness without compromise. Innovative features like strategically placed and enlarged pockets redefine utility, empowering individuals with disabilities while challenging preconceived notions for all.

In practice, inclusive fashion can look like this: a pocket placement that differs from the accustomed placement and a pocket size that is longer than usual can be used by everybody while offering individual benefits. People using wheelchairs can use uniquely placed and enlarged pockets to stash their valuables comfortably, unthinkable in garments with standard pocket placement and size. Everyone else can use the pocket just as they would any other pocket while learning about the functionality it provides for people with disabilities.


Enlarged pockets with strategic placements work for a diverse group of people: people using wheelchairs can stash their valuables comfortably, and people with disabled limbs can use them for support. © Claire Common


The Effect of Inclusive Fashion on People: Shifting Perspectives, Fostering Empathy


Conversations about inclusivity often evoke apprehension, but for Claire, it is an opportunity to foster understanding. Rejecting the notion of inclusivity as a checklist, she envisions it as a welcoming embrace, a space where everyone thrives. By weaving relatable narratives into the stories about her designs, Claire dismantles barriers, inviting dialogue and empathy. Through education and empathy, she envisions a world where inclusivity is not a burden but a celebration of diversity and a space in which everyone feels welcome and comfortable: “Is anything more important than creating a comfortable space for everybody, in which everyone can be themselves - to their full potential? Just think of the many possibilities these types of spaces create!”

For Claire, the journey towards inclusivity has been transformative, enriching her life in myriad ways. Through active listening and empathy, she has forged meaningful connections, transcending limitations imposed by societal norms. Empowered by her mission, Claire finds boundless joy in solving real-world challenges through design, igniting a newfound sense of purpose and ambition.


When actively listening, one becomes more empathetic, learns to decode what is said and identifies the needs. This can bring you closer to people, less reserved for new topics and less timid. The person with the disability whom you talk to about their challenges very quickly becomes - just the person. When learning about how people with disabilities live and about their needs, I have learned how quickly barriers can fall that have only been in my mind.


Our favourite side effect Claire described when asked how inclusivity has enriched her life is that she feels freer this way. Our team has had a similar experience since we started our radical value-based design approach. We love conversing with similar-minded designers and companies such as Claire's and learning more about the potential that can lie within a clothing brand. It inspires us to become more versatile in our design and push the boundaries further.

To learn more about the fashion brand Claire Common, visit them at clairecommon.de.


Title image: © Claire Common