The past year has been one of trials for many. 2020 was the year ‘COVID’ became a household word, and everyone was affected in one way or another. It was also the year I launched Christina Stephens, Australia’s leading inclusive fashion label for women and the CS Inclusive Collection I. What timing! And without sugar coating, it was a tough year. But we forged ahead and made amazing progress and met so many fabulous people along the way.
Our team grew and now includes go-get-em Angie, wiz-marketer Clare, myself and a team of amazing contractors and partners who help us everyday to learn, grow and navigate the business.
Our valued customers continued to give us so much informative feedback on designs and functionality, and it was them who inspired a lot of the second collection.
So what’s different this time? My focus for the second collection was to listen to what our customers were telling us, to look for gaps in the adaptive clothing market and to ensure at all times our inclusive, adaptive and sustainable design principles were being applied.
Just after launching last year we created an online design focus group to support us with the design process and to better understand the challenges and desires of our customers. This collection has been designed for women in wheelchairs and with movement and dexterity challenges….who want to feel sexy, feminine and look smart in colour! And the test was to ensure that every style looks as amazing and works just as well on a standing female. We extended the size range, now catering for sizes 8-22. We now manufacture in Australia and China with trusted partners, to help with affordability.
I’d like to give a huge thank you to this #uniquewomen design group who collectively and individually provided guidance and ideas throughout the design process. And to them, I’d love to dedicate the Unique Women’s Collection. This consists of six pieces in Collection II that we feel came from these creative ladies!
We’ve remained true to our minimalist, classic style, but introduced elements to give our customers more choice when it comes to a little creative flair. And of course, all our garments are specifically designed for women sick of compromising on style over function.
Created with seated fashion in mind, but versatile to suit a standing woman, key features include:
→ Cropped jackets with longer backs
→ Longer arm lengths for seated resting
→ Longer leg lengths for seated fashion
→ Front thigh pockets (no more fiddling at the hip!)
→ Magnetic front fastening on our shirts
→ Leggings with considerations for super-pubic catheters
→ Pull tabs – cause we could all use them!
→ Introduction of ‘essensual’ sleepwear
→ Continuation of our popular leaf back styles
We’ve continued to work with our offshore partners to make beautiful, sensory fabrics using Oeko-Tex Standard 100 bamboos and soft, certified organic cottons. And to keep things interesting we began working with a New Zealand company (with offices in Australia) to source remnant fabrics from around that world, that allow us to help divert waste fabrics from landfill.
We moved from a traditional, costly and environmentally damaging sampling process to a virtual, online software that allows us to prepare samples on screen, which meant we reduced the physical process to 1-2 samples per style.
We have extended our design principles into our packaging where all polybags and mailers are now compostable. We’ve taken out redundant tags, strings and pins and replaced them with one product sticker and a gorgeous tape measure come ribbon to finish off our products.
To our valued customers, dedicated staff, stead-fast contractors, supportive partners and my spunky mum, who have supported me and Christina Stephens (the label) in the past year, a heartfelt thank you. I hope you are just as excited about this collection as I am. I can’t wait to create many more.
Thanks for your support!
Jessie (Founder) x
*Christina Stephens clothing can be purchased using NDIS funds, through customers’ consumable budget in core supports, or through their Home Care Package funds.