Fashion & Disability an Open Letter

Fashion & Disability an Open Letter

In 2018, it is not enough to have simply survived life’s obstacles – or even to thrive despite them. For me, as a paraplegic model, ambassador, parathlete, wife, and woman, to live my best life is to embrace my challenges.

Everyday, I accept myself. My legs, though at times I dislike them, are mine; though I don’t see them represented or reflected in the magazines and stores I browse in, they are here to stay. I’ve learned to love my body for all that it is. But still in 2018, and despite great progress towards diversity, it feels that there is much to be done to convince fashion to respect bodies like mine.

There are people like me all over the world growing up without any reference to their part or place in society; without seeing others, like themselves, living a full and fulfilling life. Still, it is as though having a disability is to be invisible – to have the full spectrum of who you are and who you could potentially become, ignored.

Beyond navigating the stigma, misconceptions, prejudice and doubts about what I, as a disabled person can achieve, I am working passionately to make sure that I see myself represented

samanta bullock wheelchair model abled body young
Before my accident – Samanta Bullock 1992

in my industry. I challenge myself to work fearlessly in fashion, so that others like me feel confident that they can not just survive their own obstacles, but thrive and embrace them too.

I want to make the industry I’ve worked in for 30 years, more inclusive. My drive comes from my experience growing up, working as a model in Brazil; having my accident and then feeling like my dreams had been taken away from me. This stage in my life lead me to the next – to becoming number one tennis champion in Brazil; to being signed to a modelling agency, representing top brands like the BBC and Toyota; and to featuring on the runways at London Fashion Week. Now, I’m channelling my passions towards making a difference – towards an industry that embraces and celebrates disabled bodies.

I want the next generation of disabled children and adults to see people just like them, working in all aspects of the fashion industry. I want to see disabled designers, stylists, makeup artists and photographers involved in major brands and fashion shows. In fashion’s future, there’s a place for blind and partially sighted people, deaf people, people in wheelchairs, people with learning disabilities – disabled people who have all sorts of abilities.

designer louise linderoth wheelchair model samanta bullock
Picture by Pavzo with Louise Linderoth at London Scouts LFW

I would like to work with all stakeholders in the industry to make fashion reflect society more accurately, and to create an environment wherein everybody feels welcome. In 2018, yes we have the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, River Island and ASOS to admire for their work towards this change; we have models like Kelly Knox and Madeline Stuart to inspire a new generation of models. But in 2018 I would like to see the leadership of these brands and power of these people’s stories motivating the entire fashion industry.

 

In 2018 it is not enough to leave the weight of inclusion on the shoulders of a few key players. Inclusion is about surviving and thriving together, embracing each other. Inclusion is about everybody – including you.

 

Fashion Is Embracing Change

Fashion Is Embracing Change

For models with disabilities, a fashion week with the name of ‘Runaway of Dreams’ is held. This fashion week was established in 2014 by a designer, Mindy Shayer and it gave different disabled models a platform to turn their dreams into reality. For Mindy, the main purpose of Runaway of Dreams was to make clothes for people with different disabilities. She herself, has a son who was born with a disability and that was her inspiration to make something for people who cant dress themselves. The clothes that are displayed during this fashion week are purely made for people with disabilities so that they don’t require a lot of help dressing up. Many different models collaborate with Runaway of Dreams and promote this cause.

wheelchair model samanta bullock london fashion week scout
Louise Linderoth Collection

One of the main reasons for growing awareness of diverse models is the fashion designers. Many different fashion designers and famous brands have taken strong action in promoting models with disabilities by giving them a platform. Some of these designers include the world-renowned fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. Tommy Hilfiger is best known for his brand ‘Tommy Hilfiger Corporation’. Mr. Hilfiger has designed clothes for men and women with disabilities. He collaborated with Runaway of Dreams to design and promote clothes for adults with disabilities.

Every person who is passionate modeling, dreams of walking on the catwalk for some popular designer. Why should people with disabilities not get a chance? British Vogue gave a platform to disabled models to showcase themselves and feel as glamorous as any other model. Designers, Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones, collaboratively known as Teatum Jones, were ones of the pioneers who showcased the work at London Fashion Week and for this, they choose disabled models. They promoted models with different disabilities and gave them a highly professional platform to show their work.

It’s not just fashion designers that are promoting disabled models, but fashion stores such as ASOS have also used disabled models to promote their brands. ASOS has joined BDF (Business Disability Forum) which make clothes for Paralympic athletes. By partnering with them, they’re not only making clothes for disabled people but have participated in creating awareness among people that there are more than 6.9 million disabled people in the United Kingdom. Their promotion of this cause has also led them to make it easier for disabled people to shop online. They have used numerous disabled models to walk on the ramp.

wheelchair model LFW samanta bullock disabled madeira de rodas
Samanta at LFW

Many disabled models have been given an opportunity to be in the runaway with confidence and pride. American horror story actress, Jamie Brewer, is the first model with Down’s syndrome to walk on the ramp in London based models of diversity fashion week. Other than that,  British personal trainer, Jack Eyers, became the first male amputee model to walk on the catwalk. Jack Eyers was picked by celebrity fashion designer, Antonio Urzi, who is known to design clothes for Beyonce and Lady Gaga.

Many people and designers have expanded their horizons and thought out of the box to make fashion look more glamorous and nothing is more glamorous than beauty displayed in every shape and size. Due to the awareness caused by these designers, people are now becoming more and more concerned with expanding the definition of fashion and the way people think. Fashion is not about the beauty anymore, it is so much more and that itself is beautiful.

 

Tommy Hilfiger launches an adaptive fashion line for disabled adults

Tommy Hilfiger launches an adaptive fashion line for disabled adults

Hello you.

The good news in the world of fashion is: Tommy Hilfiger launched an adaptive fashion line for disabled people. It is the revolution happening. Take a look at the full article on the link below.

The fashion industry, despite its recent strides in diversity, isn’t known for its accessibility. There are very few brands who go out of their way to accommodate disabled people or those with limited mobility. In fact, it can be difficult to get into many pairs of jeans even when you’re able-bodied.

wheelchair model samanta bullock website disabled
Disabled Models

So it’s a real punch in the air that Tommy Hilfiger has just launched a collection specifically designed for disabled adults. It’s not their first foray into adaptive fashion – they launched a line for kids back in 2016. But this is their first time doing a sportswear line based off pieces from Tommy Hilfiger collections. We’re talking adjusted seams and openings.

Magnetic and velcro closures. Magnetic zips. Adjusted leg openings

 

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/19/tommy-hilfiger-launches-an-adaptive-fashion-line-for-disabled-adults-7012169/?ito=cbshare

Let’s be the change we want to see in the world.

Best

Sam