Here at Adaptista, we are big cheerleaders for small businesses. We especially want to support inclusive businesses by offering a public space for consumers to learn about the company, and more importantly, the wonderful people behind the brands.
Today we focus on the powerhouse of disability rights and adaptive design that is Victoria Jenkins and highlight her beautiful adaptive clothing line called “Unhidden”.
Firstly, tell us a little about yourself...
Where to start!
I always had an artistic leaning, I was relatively decent at drawing from as young as 5 years of age. I had always wanted to become a dancer and was very close to achieving my dream until I broke my ankle jogging. I was always playing dress-up when I was young, and I knew then I wanted to make or work with clothing. Initially, I had hoped to design and create bespoke clothing to make people feel and look good in their own bodies. I studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni London and graduated in 2008. After leaving my studies, I became a pattern-cutter and became a garment technologist. I worked for suppliers that supplied clothing to Tesco and Primark and then with brands such as Jack Wills and All Saints - my last permanent role was at Victoria Beckham in 2017 before I began to develop the Unhidden brand.
What compelled you to become an adaptive clothing designer?
Although I myself had several surgeries and avoided clothing during my recoveries, it was another patient I had met that inspired me. She had multiple accessibility needs and regularly had to remove all of her clothing to allow doctors to examine her, a very humiliating but all too common experience. I then thought there must be a better way to manage these situations for patients. She had revealed to me in one of our many conversations that she had always worn uncomfortable or baggy clothing and she missed being able to dress up.
How would you describe your adaptive clothing brand “Unhidden” in three words?
Responsible, tailored and luxury.
Sounds amazing! Tell us more...
The fashion industry is one of the world's biggest polluters. I did not want to compromise our planet- even for the amazing community that I love - I know the industry can be better than what we have been led to believe.
As my whole career has been the construction of garments, I know how to make things that are long lasting with proper construction techniques. I have partnered with a factory that allows me to deliver luxury adaptive clothing without the inflated price tag that is usually associated with luxury. People with Disabilities deserve high-end fashion and well made garments.
I want to expand the range with more colours and categories- but not for growth's sake. I don’t want to over-produce. This is why we are currently creating made-to order designs or limited number production runs.
What do you love most about being a designer?
The impact my work has had for the customers as well as the creative challenge of designing for a diverse range of bodies. Designing clothes that are classically pleasing and without noticeable adaptations is not impossible!
Where do you like to get inspiration? Music, art, people etc?
I think my inspiration comes from a variety of sources and I don’t always realise myself where an idea has come from! Sometimes my inspiration comes from things I DON’T see, but would like to. Vintage Celine (the brand - not Dion!) style is probably the best example, that is the look I aimed for during our photo-shoot. Sort of 1990’s minimalism with an adaptive update.
How would you define your own personal style?
Probably quite classic - I don’t tend to follow trends, sometimes it takes me a little while to absorb a trend into my wardrobe. I buy mostly second hand clothing and I re-wear outfits but I try and style them differently. I like to “shop” my own wardrobe although there admittedly hasn't been much chance to do that in the last year. I don’t have a huge colour variety in my clothing, occasionally I add a splash of colour to an outfit. But I cannot wait until my wardrobe is made up of all Unhidden production pieces rather than samples I have made that aren’t quite the final design yet!
What is the one piece of adaptive fashion that you have created that you are most proud of?
So difficult to answer this question. I would probably say the Unhidden shirts I designed, with the Unhidden dress being a close runner up. The shirts are silky and light weight, and they can be styled in multiple ways. I also love how they allow access to certain areas of the body (for example for treatments or medical appointments), while still looking professional as well. They can work for so many individual needs all at once. I do also love the Unhidden trousers - they are the ones I most need myself. I want to try exploring the use of different colours and silhouettes of these trousers - fingers crossed I can develop them this year!
And we are 100% sure you will!
Finally, all creatives and entrepreneurs are always busy - on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the messiest) how tidy is your desk at this exact moment? (mine is a solid and super messy 9 - I blame my ADHD)
Ooooh... Ummm... 100,000,000?
I have been sewing adaptive alterations as well as designing, so I have pieces of fabric, trims, packaging for Unhidden and also some paperwork relating to my other businesses… it’s pure chaos! Pens, paper, books, and I love scented candles so I have a wide range to choose from... I cant wait to have an office with more space someday but I suspect it will always look a little chaotic!
It has been an absolute joy to learn more about you and we wish you every success in the years ahead!
Victoria is Launching a Kictstarter Fundraising Campaign on Friday 12th March at 6pm - you can sign up for tickets HERE
You can learn more about Unhidden clothing through the following links:
And Victoria’s very own disability advocacy accounts on the following links: