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Meet Gemma - Founder, disability advisor, fashion designer & buyer, advocate for inclusive fashion

Updated: Feb 6

Are you ready to come on a journey where style knows no boundaries? Allow me to introduce myself - I'm Gemma, The founder of WearMatter but previously a dedicated disability advisor, fashion designer, fashion buyer. I am a fierce advocate for inclusive fashion. In a world where individuality and self-expression are celebrated, I'm here to ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can embrace fashion with confidence and flair.


Who is Gemma McAllister?

Meet Gemma - Founder, disability advisor, fashion designer & buyer, advocate for inclusive fashion
Photo credit - Emmi Hyyppä @ www.emmihyyppa.com

"I wear multiple hats here at WearMatter, I am trying my best to do it all. Sewing, social media, networking, website issues - every single thing I gotta do!

I’ve worked in the fashion industry in both buying and design roles for many years but I wanted change so I started work as a disability advisor, (random I know) and the complete opposite of careers but it was necessary."



 

Inclusive Fashion design from WearMatter as seen modelled by someone on the beach

To be honest when I finally pushed myself to leave Northern Ireland and move to London to work in the fashion industry as a designer after studying at Ulster University, I was so excited, I dropped everything at the time, I was a self employed nail technician and I loved creating art on peoples nails and making them feel great. I took out a bank loan to be able to intern for 1 month (Only expenses up to £15 were paid each day) and away I went to London expecting to return home after the month. However from that internship I secured a full time job, it was great and I decided to move my whole life over to London including my partner Brendan and my fur baby Harley, he's a Labrador. (That is them in the picture, being my biggest supporters on the beach - my favourite place)

 

THE FASHION INDUSTRY - LACK OF INCLUSIVE FASHION & DISABILITY

Fashion was always a world I admired and dreamt off, I absolutely love the fact you can take piece of cloth or yarn and transform it into something beautiful that fits the body but in the industry this wasn’t the case. Working as a designer you would often create a design and have it sampled and when you go into a fit session (Session were a model would try on the garment and comments would be made by the design and buying teams and garment technologists of ways to change the garment fit and look etc) usually the comments made would completely alter the garment and looks nothing like your original design, but due to cost this had to be removed, this stitch had to change to this to make more money etc. So really the designer had no say so I decided I want to move to buying to have that design head but the buyer control, I moved into buying and of-course I got fed up. I knew I never wanted to settle into a conventional career within someone else’s company or brand . My dream workplace ended up becoming a toxic environment which lacked creativity and was all about mass producing replica garments over and over so Instead, I completely switched it up to become a disability advisor, embracing my passion for wanting to help others and have a rewarding career where I felt that I could add value and change peoples lives for the better. I never wanted to leave the fashion industry really but I could not be a part of something that was often excluding, creating for the wrong reasons and not taking into consideration my health and disability or others. Disability needs to be considered when thinking about clothing that goes on our bodies. We need more inclusive fashion options.


TWO WORDS THAT SHOULD ALWAYS BE TOGETHER

Female hero arm user holding a circle in the air with clouds and the words function & fashion displayed

Fast forward and I am here now - WearMatter, It is intended to look like ‘We Are Matter’ but also ‘Wear Matter’ because guess what - we do all MATTER!


What we wear matters and each of us are individual but significant, We take up different spaces in this world (just like matter). The final reason why my brand has the word ‘matter’ in it. When I was younger I could not say this word at all due to my accent, people would often laugh and make fun of me for how I said it. As humans we often point out our flaws or weaknesses, but these can often be our strengths so this was important for me. I now use this word that I once struggled with more than ever and to bring my vision of inclusive fashion to life. I am here on this planet to use my creative skills for the good, to advocate for disability and use my unique experience and skills for the best within my community. Let's all work together to create more inclusive fashion, I love to hear from you in person, via social media or via our website - Just get in touch!


To keep up to date with all of our news and updates, please be sure to follow us on our social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn & TikTok.

 

I LOVE WHAT I DO & WE CAN MAKE CHANGE TOGETHER

WearMatter studio setting, showcasing an Inclusive Fashion sweatshirt design
Photo credit - Emmi Hyyppä @ www.emmihyyppa.com

Whats coming next for the WearMatter Blog - What is adaptive clothing?



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