Clothing designer changes the game for wearers and carers

8 November 2023

Dignity, comfort and ease are at the center of Linda Dugan’s mission at Petal Back Clothing in Docklands, one of the most innovative adaptive clothing brands in the world.  

If you’ve never heard of adaptive clothing, you’re not alone.  

Linda, a former swim and resort wear designer, first encountered the need for garments that could accommodate the elderly, disabled and those with limited mobility when her grandmother suffered a stroke and could no longer dress herself.  

Using her design skills, Linda created a nightie that could be easily slipped on and off, without her grandmother having to hoist her arms in the air.

Linda has since expanded to an impressive range of pieces catering to a wide clientele including blouses, pants, singlets, polos and options for men as well.

A person looking at the camera while holding fabric on a mannequin. There is a mobility chair in the foreground.
Linda Duggan with her adaptive clothing range.

“Double layers allow the back of garments to both open up and fold over each other to close completely, sliding up the arms first, and then over the head. It’s soft and comfortable to lie on, and parts easily for convenient changing of incontinence aids, yet never exposing underwear like a hospital gown would. You can’t tell any of this from the front – it just looks like an ordinary garment,” Linda said  

“This provides the wearer with a level of comfort, dignity and style that can’t be found anywhere else. When loved ones go into care, the importance of having them maintain their style, personality and dignity can’t be understated,” she said.

Where other adaptive clothing providers would usually use velcro, zips or studs that can be painful to sleep on and difficult for carers to manoeuvre their loved ones into, Petal Back Clothing’s innovative design truly stands out.  

There is an unimaginable amount of care and consideration in every stitch. Linda has thought of everything from patterns designed to cover up food and tea spills, to how stronger, high-quality fabrics made to last are needed as garments must go through medical grade industrial laundering.  

Two people holding a framed certificate. One is wearing regalia.
Linda Duggan and Lord Mayor Sally Capp at the awards ceremony.

We recognised Petal Back Clothing as a finalist in the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Innovation Awards
While the accolade is justly deserved, Linda maintains that the biggest reward is making a difference to someone’s care, often in their final years.  

“This woman came up to me at an event and told me that five years ago she purchased Petal Back garments for her younger brother with early onset dementia. She said the pieces made the biggest difference until the end of his life at age 49.

“To me that is the most amazing thing in the world, I love doing what I do,” Linda said. 

To me that is the most amazing thing in the world, I love doing what I do,” Linda said. 

Find Petal Back Clothing at The District Docklands.

About the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards

Melbourne is full of fantastic small business success stories. 

The business owners showcased on these pages are recipients of this year’s Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards
The awards celebrate the people behind inner-city businesses that have stood the test of time. 
Among the recipients are legends who have been in business in the city for 10+, 20+ and 40+ years. We also name a Small Business of the Year and Small Innovation Business of the Year. 

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