Thanks to the pandemic, there’s never been so many independent clothing brands.
Sustainable, made-to-order labels are popping up all the time as creatives noticing huge gaps in the fashion market take matters into their own hands. It can only be a good thing, as consumers move away from fast fashion in favour of more ethical options.
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While it’s always great seeing more eco-friendly and stylish options, there’s still a distinct lack of clothing for people with disabilities.
Chamiah Dewey is doing something to change that. After noticing there were no options for people with dwarfism, the 22-year-old launched the UK’s first ever clothing brands for women with short stature.
Many of the individuals driving the much-needed growth of adaptive fashion have disabilities themselves, but Chamiah is an able-bodied woman, who felt inspired to make a change after meeting a young woman with dwarfism who struggled to find clothes that fit in 2018.
“I was a team leader at a holiday camp and she was in one of my groups,” she says. “I got to see a lot of her challenges, as we spent a lot of time together for that month.
“It really opened my eyes to how different she had to live her life and all the little nuances of things that are different for her.
“She made a really huge impact on me and taught me a lot about her anatomy and every way that makes her body different, so at the end of that season I started to look into clothing for little people.”
As well as there being very few options, Chamiah found that what was available for people with dwarfism lacked style, as is the case with much adaptive fashion out there.
As a fashion student at the London College of Fashion, she started doing her research through a uni project and went on to do an enterprise placement.
Fast forward to November 2021, and Chamiah dropped her first ever collection – ethical, sustainable and premium clothing for short stature women under 4ft 10.
Every piece is simple, chic and most-importantly, well fitting. It’s made to last and transcend trends.
One of my favourite pieces is the Caitlin trench coat, finished with a hidden magnetic fastening, while the classic and versatile Monique wrap dress is another highlight.
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Pre-orders opened for the collection in November and were met with positive feedback, although at the time of meeting Chamiah the orders were in production.
Prices range from £59 for a pair of leggings to £175 for the trench coat. While these are obviously higher than fast fashion brands, they signify the high quality of the product and the ethical environment in which they’re made.
All Chamiah Dewey garments are made by Making For Change, a London-based organisation that train and employ ex-offenders and marginalised communities to equip them with professional skills and experience with the aim of reducing reoffending rates.
Meanwhile Chamiah aims to use degradable fabrics, nearly all of which are sourced in the UK from carbon-neutral suppliers.
She adds, “I think it’s so important. If you were to start a business in today’s day and age and you weren’t making an effort to be sustainable, I don’t think it would last very long.”
However as well as maintaining the brand’s ethical practises and sustainability, she is working on reducing her prices to make it more accessible.
“[The first drop] was almost like a test to see who was interested, what people are buying, what sizes they want and colours, so going forward buying stock is a little bit easier,” she says.
“Working with different factories while being ethical and sustainable is the real challenge for small businesses. When I can do bigger quantities and get cost down, that will help.”
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She also has plans to add jeans and tracksuits to her collection, and is considering branching out into menswear and childrenswear too.
It’s an exciting time for Chamiah. Orders are closed, but you can support her by following Chamiah Dewey on Instagram and checking out the brand at chamiahdeweyfashion.com.
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