Fashion, Features

The LEGACY Issue: Fashion designer Ellie Louise Brown on building an inclusive brand

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Featured image: Ellie Louise Brown

Manchester Fashion Institute alumna Ellie Louise Brown created Recondition, a new disability-friendly, sustainable clothing brand.

Recondition is an adaptive fashion brand designed for people with disabilities. Created by former Manchester Met student Ellie Louise Brown, the collection is made up of user-centred designs created with style, comfort and accessibility in mind.

The sustainable fashion brand incorporates inclusive designs and innovative fastenings to fill a gap for people with disabilities, and bring trendy clothes for all. Design and technology graduate

Ellie explains the story behind her brand and what motivates her to be part of the movement building a more inclusive industry.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you decided to create Recondition?

I had always wanted to start my own business, and fashion is what I love. I know that I am coming into a space that is over-saturated and there is not a lot going on that is necessarily good right now in the fashion world. Particularly up here in Manchester, there is a lot of fast fashion and unethical fashion. 

I initially saw starting a business as a future thing, but going into my final year of university, I took every opportunity I could. I participated in the business boot camp with Innospace, which made me realise that I have the skills and the knowledge to start the business now. In fact, now might even be a better time to do it. No-one is relying on me, the reward would be higher and the risk incredibly low.

What inspired you to create an accessible and adaptive brand?

Two and a half years ago, I fell over the tiniest step ever, broke my ankle badly and ended up in surgery. It opened up a world to me that I never thought I’d have to think about. It blew my mind because I am privileged enough to be non-disabled normally and this small insight made me think about the people who deal with this all the time. I thought ‘I don’t want to leave this insight behind’ so I asked: ‘How can I help?’ I looked into how a disability affects people and their fashion. I want Recondition to allow people to wear stylish, trendy clothes which physically work for them.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

I think this is a universal challenge: money. It costs so much to do anything. One of the good things is that the fashion industry is becoming more inclusive, as there is more funding available for women. That said, it is still really hard to get anyone to give you money. I don’t have any finance behind me, I’m not a nepo baby.

What is your fondest memory of fashion?

In my childhood, I just loved sewing and thought it was so cool that you could make something out of nothing. There was no defining point where I first felt love for fashion. I am the only girl in my family, and my aunty used to feel sorry for me, so she gave me her heel collection and told me to go into the living room and practise with them. She used to say that I would thank her someday.

What message do you want your brand to share?

I want Recondition to be a brand that designs for and incites change in the fashion industry by paving the way for a more inclusive way of operating. I’m creating a brand that responds to the wants and needs of its customers by creating meaningful and desired products. I want it to be a brand that gives back to the community by creating safe spaces for everyone to feel included in fashion and have the opportunity to engage in conversations around it.

What are your future plans for Recondition?

I want to bring the community further into the brand and develop more products by the end of the year. I would like to diversify into a lot of different garments for options that everyone else has. I don’t want to just focus on one kind of product – I want to have something for everyone. I just want a nice loyal community and for them to love the clothes and for the clothes to love them back.

Find out more on recondition.mcr

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Amy Corringham

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