A Family Crisis Inspires an Adaptive Clothing Company
Brittany Burke launches Uniteable to bring stylish options for wheelchair users and people with amputations
In November of 2007, Brittany Burke's brother, Brandon, was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. As Burke witnessed her brother's pain and the impact his eventual leg amputation had on his way of living, she was inspired to action.
"I decided to start hosting charity fashion shows and events, fundraisers for different cancer research centers, and different nonprofits," Burke recounts. She met people with chronic illnesses for whom shopping and putting on clothing was a challenge. Burke saw there was a stunning lack of practical inclusivity from brands that pride themselves on representation in their marketing. "There's still a lot of representation [in fashion] ... the models are disabled, but it doesn't really translate down to the product."
With these challenges in mind, Burke attended the Founder Institute in Austin, a startup accelerator program. It was with the help of this program that she founded Uniteable, an inclusive clothing line designed for wheelchair users and people with amputations. With a background in manufacturing and fashion merchandising, Burke was determined to bring a stylish perspective to an overlooked side of clothing design.
From her Austin home, Burke talked about the launch of her business and the gap in the fashion world when it comes to clothing built specifically for amputees, wheelchair users, and the broader population of people who require more customized clothing. She describes Uniteable as "fashion for a cause," a remedy for the lack of options for people in the adaptive community.
On Feb. 26, Uniteable will debut two lines: one for wheelchair users and one for people with an amputation. The prosthetic-focused pants will have inseam zippers up to the upper thighs so amputees can have access to their prosthetic throughout the day without removing their pants. The pants designed for people using a wheelchair will provide an easy, fashion-forward dressing solution; a future line, Burke says, will offer inseam length options for wheelchair users of varying height.*
"Building a community is just as important as selling the product," Burke says. Uniteable has partnered with nonprofits within the adaptive community, with 5% of profits going to an organization which the customer chooses. All garments will be designed and manufactured by the Uniteable team, are American made, and will be available directly through the company's website (Uniteable.co).
Burke mentions future plans of clothing customization, activewear, and an ambassador program. Right now, her focus remains on providing comfort and confidence for her brother and the greater adaptive community. "I see so much potential, so many unmet needs."
Editor's note: This story has been amended since publication to clarify that inseam length options will not be available at the time of Uniteable's launch, and to clarify that 5% of profits (not all sales) will be donated.