Brant Cartwright

Creating an inclusive clothing line

March 15, 2022
Author: Eric Zimmer

VIU Education student Brant Cartwright is delving into the fashion world – with a mission.

Growing up with a brother who has non-verbal autism, Brant Cartwright recalls “always feeling off” about the limited representation of people living with disabilities that he saw in both media and the fashion industry.

The fifth-year VIU Bachelor of Education student felt compelled to search out companies with inclusive employment and representation practices.

“It is shocking how little has been done,” Brant says.

This observation inspired Brant to launch his own clothing line: Inclusive Clothing – a brand he describes as “luxury and innovative.” The goal, he says, is to inspire other companies to increase representation of people living with disabilities by creating opportunities for them to model and be represented through mediums such as magazine covers and company social media platforms.

Of course, starting one’s own clothing line, is no easy task, as Brant quickly found out when he began the heavy lifting to establish Inclusive Clothing in January of this year.

“The process was a lot more difficult than I had originally thought,” he says. “I had to identify what I wanted to do, what I wanted the vision of the company to be, how saturated the market currently was, how I was going to stand out, who my target consumers would be, how I was going to source clothing for my brand, get the name trademarked and registered, and who would help me create a website, manage social media accounts, model for our company, and create the logo brand and design.”

For someone with no previous experience in the fashion retail industry, this was a lot to take on. Thankfully, however, Brant had some connections.

“I am truly grateful to have the support and help of family and friends who have experience with running a small business, web design, photography and logo/branding design.”

Now, with much of the back-end work in place, Brant is looking at what’s next and focusing on his vision for Inclusive Clothing.

“When I talk about selling innovative and luxury clothing, I am talking about adaptive clothing that is still high-end,” he explains. “A huge part involves working with designers to create clothing that is suitable for all body types and shapes.”

And while a priority is finding wholesalers throughout North America who sell the best-quality product for his company, Brant is also looking at ways to make his future products more eco -friendly.

“We plan on wholesaling our clothes locally and getting them printed and embroidered locally to help small BC businesses,” he says. “We are also planning to use the print-on-demand model, meaning that each product we sell is going to be printed to order. This will help ensure no stock or materials are being wasted and reduce the number of miles the product has to travel.”

It’s no small thing to start a new business, but Brant is also continuing his journey towards becoming a teacher. He began his post-secondary career in northern Alberta before transferring to VIU in 2018, both for the reputation of the Education program and the athletic offerings – he played with the Mariners men’s volleyball team for one season.

After Brant graduates, he’d like to work in the Vancouver area as a teacher and eventually obtain a master’s degree in special education “so I can better educate myself on how to integrate students living with disabilities in the classroom better.”

And although he describes Inclusive Clothing as a side hustle for now, Brant would someday like to open up a store in the Vancouver area as well “and provide work opportunities for people living with disabilities. I want every aspect of my company to be an inclusive space.”

The launch of the brand's first collection – which Brant has named “The Essential Collection" – is happening this month and all products and more information can be found on Inclusive Clothing's website. For each product sold, 5% of the profits will be donated to a local charity that helps people with disabilities.

“I do not have any experience with fashion, but I do have a lot of experience with people who are living with disabilities,” says Brant. “That is why I believe I can do this and be an advocate for the community.”

Brant Cartwright

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