Where our story began:
In 2018 our founder Chamiah Dewey worked at her usual seasonal placement, working with young people on various activities and charitable endeavours: this particular year there was a girl with Achondroplasia (the most common form of Dwarfism) in her group. This girl made a real mark on Chamiah and taught her about the challenges that come with the condition but also how it effects how she gets about; she was also really open in chatting about some of the differences in their body structure and the implications that can have (i.e. they have the same about of muscle mass, it is just condensed which is why they can have wider hips, due to condensed leg muscles; they also have the same amount of skin as an average height person which is what can cause skin folds, especially on their limbs; they have the same sized stomach as an average height person, which means that they can struggle with their weight, due to having to watch their calorie intake as their appetite doesn't match their height/metabolism, etc.).
As an aspiring fashion designer, Chamiah wondered how this affected how little people bought clothing that fitted. From meeting and working with this young person, Chamiah always knew she wanted to explore the possibility of designing clothes for little people - in 2019 when she was tasked to create a mini collection for a project with her university - London College of Fashion, in collaboration with fashion giant, Urban Outfitters, called 'Fashion Activism - Disability' - Chamiah knew this was the perfect time to explore the world of fashion for little people. She was surprised to find that not much existed in the market, yet there was 650,000 little people worldwide who needed (and more importantly WANTED) stylish, comfortable, well-fitting clothing.
She worked with fashion blogger and little person Cait from @asliceofcait to make an adaptive outfit that would fit both little people and average height people for her submission; though, on reflection, she realised that what was needed was a collection designed especially FOR little people, not both heights.
Developing Chamiah Dewey Fashion the brand:
As part of her Enterprise Diploma in Professional Studies placement at London College of Fashion, Chamiah decided to put all her eggs in one basket and explore the opportunity of creating a fashion brand designed for little people. She began by following as many little people as possible and contacting Dwarfism charities for more information and guidance. She was fortunate to meet and build a long-term relationship with the Restricted Growth Association, who went on her help her collect survey and measurement audit responses which she later turned into design development, a bespoke size chart for women with Dwarfism and helped her in creating the World's First tailors dummy in the form of a woman with Achondroplasia. Chamiah spent the year learning all there was to know about starting and running her own Social Enterprise brand and everything she could about what women with Dwarfism wanted from a clothing brand. She created an Instagram live series and Podcast to interview women from all around the world with various conditions and disabilities to discuss all there was about fashion, its challenges, triumphs and what it meant to each individual - this all informed her design development and decision making about how the brand would look and what it would offer. Chamiah learnt that (just as she thought), little people wanted to feel like they fit in and were being seen for the right reasons, often little people are victim to harassment and fetishization from the world around them, but they really wanted to find a place that they could call their own and feel comfortable in... that's where Chamiah Dewey Fashion fits in.
Using our bespoke size chart (similar to a UK 6 to 24), mannequin and fashion template books (the World's First fashion template books for little people and wheelchair users, created along the way), Chamiah got designing and sampling to find the perfect fit to our beloved fashion staples.
About our collections:
All of our pieces are designed and developed in the UK using the finest, biodegradable, British sourced fabrics and finished with innovative adaptive fastenings and designs. We work with Poplar Works' Making for Change team, 'Established by the Ministry of Justice and London College of Fashion, in 2014, Making for Change started in a women’s prison. The project aimed to increase well-being and reduce reoffending rates by equipping participants with professional skills and qualifications within a supportive environment'. Our pieces are stylish, timeless and made to the highest quality, ensuring durability and a long life. When your garment eventually ends up in landfill (hopefully in many years to come), it will fully biodegrade back into the earth and regenerate into nature again, meaning that it isn't left rotting and letting off harmful fumes like a polyester piece. Our collections are loosely influenced by seasonal trends and released according to the fashion calendar (2 seasonal collections a year with 2 transitional collections in-between). All of our branding and packaging has been designed and made in the UK, using recyclable materials; when our pieces arrive to your door, you will find them wrapped like a present in eco-friendly, branded packaging, with information about where your piece was made, who made it and the pricing breakdown of why it costs what it costs (we're big on transparency!). Our pieces range from £20-£150 and we always aim to be BETTER, FASTER and CHEAPER than buying fast fashion pieces then having to pay the hefty price-tag and waiting for alterations (something almost all little people we've spoken to have to do).
Our roadmap to dominating the adaptive fashion industry:
Chamiah Dewey Fashion's first collection for women with Dwarfism launches this Autumn/Winter 2021, offering a stylish, timeless, 5-piece staple collection for pre-order.
The aim of the pre-order is to gauge the market, see where our customers are purchasing from, what they like the most and most importantly, gather feedback on the whole experience and fit of the garments. From here we will develop our Christmas collection, consisting of formal-wear, occasion-wear and night-wear (see below for a mood-board of what to expect).
After a few successful collections and tweaks to our sizing, we plan to introduce a menswear and childrenswear collection for little people, because we know it isn't just women who need and want stylish clothing. In a couple of years, we will introduce stylish, adaptive clothing for average-height people, offering timeless pieces for disabled people with a range of conditions. This collection will be suitable for all kinds of people, able-bodied and disabled; the adaptions will be discrete as always.
We plan to buy a production unit/warehouse facility to take most/all of our production in-house, enabling us to employ disabled and little people onto our team because we know that the most important way to advocate is to allow the people you're uplifting to speak for themselves and give them the platform to do good. This will also allow us to develop innovative designs and perfect the fit much quicker to take to our customers. We aim to be the world's #1 online retail store for sustainable, stylish, adaptive clothing and accessories.
What are you waiting for... this is your chance to be part of our community, the next trailblazers in the adaptive industry!