Interview with IZ Adaptive CEO and Founder | Zappos Adaptive
Re-Introducing IZ: An Interview with IZ Adaptive CEO and Founder, Izzy Camilleri
Many adults with disabilities around the world were disheartened when IZ Adaptive, the ready-to-wear adaptive apparel brand, closed its doors in 2016. Although IZ Adaptive deemed this as a hiatus, customers were uncertain about when and if the well-respected pioneer in the adaptive fashion space would return. When the brand announced plans to relaunch in late fall 2018, responses were overwhelmingly positive. In addition to an expanded collection in a broad range of sizes, IZ Adaptive continued its mission to offer timeless adaptive clothing to as many people as possible so that they live in comfort, style, dignity and empowerment. IZ Adaptive’s comeback also included a partnership with Zappos Adaptive, making Zappos one of the first retailers to carry the brand!
Here at Zappos Adaptive, we were so excited to add IZ Adaptive to our adaptive portfolio that we decided to reach out to IZ Adaptive CEO and founder, Izzy Camilleri, to get her thoughts on the brand’s relaunch. Izzy is one of Canada’s most renowned fashion designers, so it was a thrill to have some time to get her insights.
Zappos Adaptive (ZA): When you began IZ Adaptive in 2009, you were a clear frontrunner in adaptive fashion. What was your brand’s vision at that time? How has that evolved over the past decade?
Izzy: At the time of launching IZ Adaptive in 2009, seeing that there was nothing out there with regard to clothing for younger people with disabilities, I decided to start with wardrobe basics...pieces we all use and need in our wardrobes. This was the starting point for IZ. I then began to add a bit more fashion along the way.
ZA: When IZ Adaptive closed its doors in 2016, did you plan to return? If not, why? If so, what plans did you develop for the hiatus?
At the time of the closing I was unsure if IZ would return or not. The challenge of marketing, manufacturing and pricing were all issues that needed to be addressed.
ZA: What are your thoughts on the evolution of fashion as relates to disability inclusion?
We are now seeing more and more fashion brands entering the arena and providing adaptive clothing and therefore providing inclusion with their brands. People with disabilities are being heard and major brands are listening. These brands are noticing this untapped area of the market and seeing the potential of entering.
ZA: Your brand relaunch also included a partnership with Zappos Adaptive. What are the goals of this partnership? Why is it significant?
Izzy: Yes, Zappos was looking to expand their Adaptive category and they were interested in including IZ Adaptive. For IZ, this allowed us to expand our market and business which was a great opportunity for us. The goals of the partnership are to continue to offer more products through Zappos, which will also help us grow as a company.
ZA: With other brands continually joining the inclusive fashion movement, what makes IZ Adaptive stand out?
Izzy: I think what makes IZ Adaptive stand out is that we’ve been at it the longest. We have a customer base that believes in the brand and swears by it with regard to fit and quality. Unlike major fashion brands, this is all we do and concentrate on...it’s not just another line for us. We are a small business with lots of love for what we do.
ZA: What advice do you have for people who are interested in making an impact in the adaptive fashion space, whether as designers, models, or general consumers?
Izzy: For designers, they’ve got to understand the needs and how to design adaptive clothing. If done poorly or incorrectly, it could be harmful to the wearer, therefore research is key to creating a great line. For models, reach out to brands that are carrying adaptive clothing and let them know you’d love to model for them. With the general consumer, I suppose it depends on how they’d like to impact the space if they are not in need of adaptive clothing. Get involved or share information with those that would benefit from this type of clothing.
ZA: IZ Adaptive has a decade under its belt. Where will it be 10 years from now?
We hope to continue to grow and serve more and more people, not only in North America, but globally. [We want to] provide more clothing options of course, but we also want to get into other categories like footwear, accessories and more undergarments. We want to inspire and support people with disabilities in any way we can.