The first adaptive clothing brand in Azerbaijan, Kekalove Adaptive Fashion, is a social business project which creates comfortable and stylish clothes for people with various kinds of disabilities, taking into account their special needs. The 20-year-old founder of the company, Mahammad Kekalov, says that he knew that there was a need for adaptive clothing in Azerbaijan based on his own family experience.
“My grandmother had a disability and eventually lost her sight, so I’ve known a lot about this since I was a child. We lived with my grandmother and helped her, so I already knew back then what kind of problems people with disabilities encountered. Clothes were one of those problems.”
According to Mahammad, the project’s primary goal is to make adaptive clothing the norm in Azerbaijan, and to get other brands and designers to produce adaptive clothing for the long term.
“By creating clothes which simplify the lives of people with disabilities, we’re making it possible for them to lead active lifestyles, and in that way we can contribute to their integration in society,” he added.
The project was launched in 2019 with a demonstration of their first adaptive clothes. Later, project participants created a collection of 24 adaptive designs for people with various special physical needs. While working on each design, the designers interacted with these very people, listening to their advice and their wishes. According to creative director Ruhlan Jalilov, they consult about everything, even the smallest details — from what they think makes clothing comfortable to the choice of fabrics.
“For example, some people want to hide their disabilities, while others want it to be easily noticeable. So when we’re using buttons, for example, we either hide them or, on the contrary, put them on display. The buttons are made from such beautiful materials that we don’t want to hide them, quite the opposite, we want to use them to stress that this is adaptive clothing.”