Writing in New York: Part 2

It’s been about two months since I wrote my last post on NYC coffee shops in a series that might become somewhat of a continuing thing for me. I’m not making any promises about regularly posting on this blog because I am quite afraid of commitment at the moment, so please only plunge ahead with this post if you acknowledge that this is not going to be like the seven seasons of Sex and the City, but instead it has more the flavor of its shorter, less strings-attached sister series, The Carrie Diaries.

The idea for this post is quite simple and birthed out of my genuine love of the little alcoves tucked away in practically every corner here: coffee shops. My younger brother and I were recently discussing these magical places, and he didn’t understand what the fuss was about. Well, Dylan, the reason a lot of people (myself included) lose it over these places is that coffee shops carry sweet drinks that soothe dry souls parched by the animated jungle gym that is this city. There is just something so comforting about ordering a warm drink and sitting down and creating something within an environment of other creative souls. My life has been quite topsy-turvy these days, but one thing that I always can count on is stumbling into a small shop with quaint underpinning that re-light my spark for spending my time in the gems that hold NYC together with their very existence.

I originally was going to write about multiple coffee shops, but I had so much to say about one of my favorites that I decided to just stick to it! Hope you enjoy and that this will possibly inspire you to venture off into a coffee shop of your own soon.

B Cup Cafe:

B Cup Cafe

This is one of my favorites because there is a spontaneous, somewhat ridiculous story associated with the first time I ventured into this place. My sweet pup, Bear, has his haircut spot just one block away on Avenue B in the heart of the village, and the first time I went to this shop corresponded with the first time that Bear got a haircut! Ah, the memories. Bear has grown so much since then! Cue photo back to right after his first haircut. :’) They grow up so fast.

Bear First Haircut

Anyways, my brother happened to be in town visiting me whilst Bear and I had this adventure to the haircut place. It was raining quite heavily, and while I am normally one to soak up every drop with a smile on my face, that day was not necessarily the best for it to be raining. My brother and I didn’t have raincoats or even umbrellas with us, and I remember we were coming all the way from 3rd Avenue drenched in a downpour of rain that seemed to be telling us to head back. Alas, as is the Frayne way, we ignored the ominous omen and plunged ahead. We eventually made it and checked Bear in for his appointment.

It was still pouring down rain hard when we had to leave Bear for a few hours. It felt like little icy pellets were being thrown directly into my back when we wandered back outside. It was quite unpleasant. My brother and I wandered aimlessly as I often do in this city and we landed on this coffee shop because it was nearby. Little did I know how great this place was. It’s inauspicious exterior lends for quite the delightful surprise in the interior. The only thing that was significantly disappointing was that they only take cash, which my brother nor I had much to spare at that moment. We pooled our money to buy a chocolate confection from the bakery window and we sat near the window.

We talked and talked and talked as time passed, like those good conversations that you can’t plan but pop up when you need them to. It was so refreshing to talk to him in a space that felt like the relaxed coffee shops from our small hometowns; in fact, I felt no judgement there. I was just happy to be chilling and sitting with my brother. And this space lended itself well to letting me just breathe and enjoy my time with him.

I love this space exactly because they have a collection of offerings, but because the atmosphere makes me feel at ease. I highly recommend this coffee shop to anyone interested! Here’s the cafe website if you want to know more about them/visit!!

Is Adaptive Clothing Adapting the Fashion Industry?

According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people have a disability. Adaptive clothing, which offers features like magnetic buttons and zippers that require less tactile effort, can be life-changing for people with disabilities. However, despite roughly 13% of the global population living with a disability, hardly any fashion houses have produced adaptive clothing lines or made other strides within the realm of disability activism. However, there are a few, like Tommy Hilfiger, who have started launching adaptive lines designed for individuals with disabilities. With regards to the launch of Tommy Hilfiger's Tommy Adaptive line, the brand’s founder remarked: “Inclusivity and the democratization of fashion have always been at the core of our brand’s DNA. Tommy Adaptive continues to build on that vision, empowering people to express themselves through fashion.” While on the surface the launch of adaptive clothing lines has pronounced benefits, such as being a potential means of empowerment for individuals with disabilities, it is important to consider potential downsides of such clothing lines as well. Overall, while the launch of adaptive clothing lines by high-end fashion houses is promising, it is important to be nuanced while considering the potential effects that adaptive clothing lines will have on the disability community.  

Due to the groundbreaking nature of Tommy Adaptive, there was an outpouring of online debate regarding the pros and cons of an adaptive clothing line from a high-end fashion house. On Twitter, which is widely viewed as the hub for discussion in the disability community, there was a consensus that the functionality and the aesthetic beauty of the clothing in the Tommy Adaptive collection was impressive. A common issue with previous, smaller adaptive clothing lines was that many consumers were not satisfied with the appearance of the clothes themselves. Due to misrepresentations in popular culture and the mistreatment of people with disabilities, body confidence is a point of contention for individuals with disabilities. Adaptive clothing is a means to empowerment through functionality and aesthetically-pleasing designs that can provide opportunities for self-expression.

Although adaptive clothing by high-end fashion houses can produce significant, empowering benefits, one must ask whether high-end adaptive clothing lines can truly be inclusive due to exorbitant prices. The brand’s goal of democratizing fashion may be moot if the target demographic cannot obtain the collection due to economic constraints. Having a disability in the United States is excruciatingly expensive, especially without insurance. Employees with disabilities can still be legally paid under the minimum wage, and there are a range of financial battles that individuals with disabilities may face, such as regularly paying for costly medications or contracting car rental services since accessible public transportations options are unreliable due to the widespread lack of accessible infrastructure in most American cities. Therefore, while Tommy Adaptive and other adaptive clothing lines are a step toward inclusivity for individuals with disabilities, financial inclusivity must also be considered when designing adaptive clothing lines.

While some individuals with disabilities might not have the means to purchase high-end adaptive clothing, it is promising that more affordable brands, such as Target and Zappos, recently launched adaptive clothing lines. All of these brands have spurred a discussion about disabilities in the fashion industry, and hopefully more brands across the industry will follow their lead. Adaptive clothing is supportive of the disability rights movement. The benefits are plentiful, but the central tenet is that functional and attractive clothing collections can empower individuals with disabilities. There is not only a need for adaptive clothing, but there is a gaping need for more magazine campaigns featuring models with disabilities, more fashion designers with disabilities, and increased employment of individuals with disabilities across the fashion industry. Adaptive clothing is a promising start for the representation of people with disabilities in the fashion industry, yet it is only scratching the surface of what the fashion industry could unlock if it paid more attention to the disability community.

Note: This article was cross-published in the blog magazine Hoot Magazine in April 2018.