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The greatest depths of despair can be found in the fitting room. But the issue goes beyond tight waistbands for certain consumers, with their unique sartorial needs seemingly ignored by the fashion industry. That is, except for these three Colorado companies patching holes in the market.
Frustration: Adaptive fashion—clothing options made specifically for people living with disabilities and medical conditions—is difficult to find and often drab when you do. “Most of the fashion industry isn’t even thinking about functionality,” Patti & Ricky founder Alexandra Herold says.
Fix: Herold launched Patti & Ricky, an online marketplace featuring chic adaptive fashion brands, in 2017. Named after two of Herold’s late family members with disabilities, the Denver-based website carries jeans with an elastic waistband for people who use wheelchairs, dress shirts with easy-close Velcro fasteners, emergency alert pendants that look like jewelry, arm slings with cute patterns, and much more.
Frustration: Women of all sizes have small chests, but the bra industry clearly hasn’t noticed: Cup sizes typically increase with band length, forcing someone with a larger torso to settle for a cup they can’t fill out or too-tight straps that cause painful rubbing and bruising.
Fix: Pepper founders Jaclyn Fu and Lia Winograd launched a Kickstarter in 2017, promising to make bras with longer bands and small cups (including half-cup sizes). By day 13, the Denver duo had raised $47,320 from 950 backers. “There was this huge, unheard community of women who wanted a better-fitting bra,” Fu says. Bonus: Pepper’s online fit quiz helps customers pinpoint which design is best for them.
Frustration: Outdoor clothing for women often follows the “shrink it and pink it” method. “They take a men’s jacket, make it smaller, and dye it pink,” Halfdays co-founder Ariana Ferwerda says. The result is baggy winterwear that’s awkward to move in—not ideal for crisp turns down a mountain.
Fix: Halfdays launched this past November with sleek styles that strive to give women more confidence on the slopes. The Alessandra ski pant’s ($215) higher rise fits over hips, while the slim leg eases maneuvering. The Lawrence jacket ($345) has a flattering cut that hugs curves instead of drowning the wearer in material. Plus, the waterproof line boasts popular earthy hues (along with a fun yellow) instead of the usual pink.
Stemming The Flow
This nonprofit wants to end period poverty. By Caroline Bourque
Ashley Beirne can’t recall one time during her teenage years when the tampons she used weren’t donated. Back then, she didn’t have stable housing and lacked the money to buy her own menstrual products, a problem two-thirds of low-income women in the United States experience. “Not being able to afford products for something that you have absolutely no control over—it feels inhumane,” says Beirne, now 30. Determined that others shouldn’t feel that shame, in 2019 Beirne and her friend Geoff Davis started Period Kits, a Denver nonprofit that supplies free period products for Coloradans experiencing poverty. Before the pandemic, the organization hosted events at local spots like Copper Door Coffee Roasters, where volunteers packed three months’ worth of tampons, pads, liners, and underwear (worth roughly $27) into bags, which Period Kits gave to shelters and those living in tents. These days, the kit-building parties are held via Zoom (keep an eye on Period Kits’ Facebook page to join the next one). Davis also points supporters to the nonprofit’s Amazon Wishlist; the product donations delivered via the platform have contributed to the 3,000-plus kits the team has distributed since its founding. “It’s about health and dignity,” Davis says. “Period.”