Online shopping can be tricky enough at the best of times, but for those with a disability the experience can be a minefield.
New Zealand-based Grace Stratton knows this only too well. As someone who has always used a wheelchair due to Cerebral Palsy, Grace frequently experienced failed ecommerce experiences, because her lack of fine motor skills prevented her from doing up buttons or reaching zips. At twenty years old, she sought to make fashion more inclusive by launching All is for All with co-founder Angela Bevan – an inclusive modelling agency and ecommerce space designed to enable people with disabilities to participate in fashion without the barriers they often face with traditional online shopping.
The idea came to life as Grace found that clothing listings often failed to include important accessibility details – like information on zips, buttons, pockets and closures. Instead of simply sourcing adaptive clothing brands, the website features items from designer brands such as KowTow, Kate Sylvester and Ruby. Ahead of her talk at the Legacy Summit, we had the pleasure of chatting with Grace about reframing disability, accessible ecommerce and storytelling as a force for change.
Can you tell us the story of how All is for All first began?
All is for All begun because I was frustrated. I wanted to see myself reflected in the ecommerce websites I visited, and I was tired of navigating a space that was designed without considering my community. I loved fashion, so I decided to make change in that space. It became a catalyst for change in other areas.
Since your launch in March 2019, All is for All has agitated for positive change in the fashion industry in New Zealand and beyond. Can you tell us what issues are you tackling, and how?
All is for All is an accessible media, communications and talent agency focused on delivering high impact, accessible results that change the world and businesses. Currently, the most common framing of disability is deficit focused – this has resulted in a range of inaccessible outcomes; low employment, under representation in media and film, and disproportionate rates of poverty. If we reframe disability and focus on enabling disabled people, I believe we can change some of these outcomes.
We use storytelling and fashion as a force for change. Our belief is that, by reframing disability – showing the excellent, dynamic, disabled people who are in our communities – we can create a better world.
Our belief is that, by reframing disability – showing the excellent, dynamic, disabled people who are in our communities – we can create a better world.
Could you share a bit more about how the All is for All agency is helping fashion brands make their offerings more accessible?
The All is for All agency is a modelling and talent agency. It represents models, speakers, influencers and world changers who need an accessible agency in order to succeed. We act on behalf of disabled people, to ensure they get opportunities in industry.
We’ve had models work at Fashion Week (NZ) alongside Levi’s Australia New Zealand, and more. Our ecommerce platform curates items, explains them from an accessibility perspective and shoots on disabled models. Accessibility is achieved through autonomy, that’s what our ecommerce platform provides.
For you, what are the main challenges of running an impact-driven business?
Mainly it’s keeping going, the entrenched narratives about disability are strong, powerful and still wielded by people today – and it’s harmful. Keeping my head up, committed to the work, and to the changes we’re trying to make is sometimes hard. It’s tiring, but we get up every morning and do it again. I’m really proud of us for that, and I know that if we keep moving we’ll get the outcomes we want. It’s about being steadfast.
What have been some of your proudest achievements in this space, to date?
Sending our models to fashion week, making an international list of female world changers, and submitting a 30-page accessibility evaluation for one of the worlds biggest events.
What would be the main takeaway you would want people to know about you, and the work you do?
You were taught to think that being disabled is a bad thing. It’s not. What’s bad is a lack of accessibility – this places a ceiling on the lives of individuals, much more than any impairment does. We’re breaking down this ceiling through storytelling.
Legacy Summit is Asia Pacific’s leading fashion summit on responsible business. Legacy 2020 will explore how business in the fashion industry can and must be done differently. Through a series of keynote presentations, expert panel conversations and interactive breakout sessions with international and local speakers such as Grace Stratton, Clare Press and speakers from organisations such as Nudie Jeans, Kathmandu, Elk, The Iconic, Ethical Clothing Australia and Australian Fashion Council. If you’re keen to tune into the virtual summit, grab your ticket via the Legacy website.