The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games wrapped up earlier this month and brought us many highlights and proud moments. But some achievements were celebrated behind the scenes, like the process of creating the uniform for Israel’s delegation. The collection was created by Palta, a company specializing in inclusive fashion solutions that are both accessible and fashionable, in collaboration with Kornit.
We met with Shay Senior, the social entrepreneur who founded Palta, to discuss the concept of inclusive fashion, the way it meets the needs of today’s consumers with and without disabilities, and how the collaboration with Kornit was formed.
Here’s how it all started
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In Shay’s case, an injury during his military service revealed the personal need for better clothing solutions, which quickly turned out to be a challenge shared by many worldwide. The fashion solutions Senior found were more therapeutic than fashionable and only emphasized the differences, making shoppers with disabilities feel left out of the fashion game.
After learning that there aren’t enough options available in today’s market, Shay told us that he started creating different mechanisms and tools to help him with his daily needs. People around him who deal with entirely different disabilities showed deep interest, and a community was formed.
“When people ask me how I conjured up the courage to start this initiative, I say that the community is my drive. I just had to answer this burning need.”
Building a methodology for inclusive fashion
It’s important to understand that Palta isn’t just focused on creating clothes for people with disabilities, and instead aims to make fashion that’s better and interesting for everyone. People buy items created by the company in collaboration with leading global brands because they’re comfortable, easy to wear, and beautiful. This isn’t a charitable act because Palta’s fashion vision addresses and serves everyone.
To reach this goal and cover as much ground as possible, the fashion solutions created by the company have to be based on a clear methodology. Working closely with community members, Senior and his team realized that similar issues seem to bother people with disabilities, no matter what physical challenges were part of their daily routine. This revelation enables Palta to focus on specific areas such as sensory needs (how the item feels) and the opening and closing mechanisms.
“Who says that a button and a hole is the best way to fasten a garment?” asks Senior, “We need to open our minds and rethink many assumptions around clothing. What is the most comfortable way to wear an item? What’s better for the environment? Can we dress faster or with fewer movements if we make some changes?”
These are all questions that Palta’s team asks daily. The methodology they’ve created enables the company to solve fashion challenges at scale and keep their items accessible on a physical level and an economic one. Otherwise, they explain, the inclusive collection becomes a gimmick that fashion brands cannot sustain for long. Every item must be inclusive, fashionable, and affordable.
Bringing inclusive fashion to Tokyo
An impressive number of people with disabilities embrace different types of sports and make it a part of their routine. Sportswear and leisurewear became focal areas for Palta, and supporting the Israeli Paralympic delegation’s needs for Tokyo 2020 was a natural step. The company created the formal uniform and made sure to implement its unique methodology in the process.
“We didn’t want each athlete to come in for personal measuring and have the uniform tailored for their needs. It just doesn’t feel like a team member representing their country.” Senior and his team created one cohesive collection that manages to fit everyone’s needs.
Israel’s Paralympic delegation won six gold medals, two silver ones, and one bronze medal. Senior believes that while this is a wonderful platform for promoting the vision of inclusive fashion, the world is still learning to pay proper attention to the Paralympics. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there.”
The connection with Kornit happened as a twist of fate when Shay was looking for printing services. He mistakenly approached Kornit’s offices in his area, learned more about our company’s business vision, and told our team about his unique and exciting project. “An hour later, I got a call from Kornit, letting me know that they’re in and want to help with everything we might need.” Kornit was responsible for printing the uniform, and the company’s ink that’s made of natural, water-based, non-toxic materials played an essential role in supporting athletes’ sensory needs.
The strategic collaboration helped create stunning garments for the Paralympic athletes and opened the door to many future endeavors. “This is such an important connection. It was truly meant to be, and I strongly believe that we have a mutual interest to drive real social change,” he says. We couldn’t agree more and are excited to make the fashion world more inclusive together with Palta.