30 models rocked the runway for an adaptive fashion brand in a first for London Fashion Week. The brand, Unhidden, was created in 2017, when founder Victoria Jenkins noticed a gap in the industry for fashion-forward adaptive clothing.
“Diversity without disability isn’t diversity,” Jenkins told Reuters. “It’s very frustrating, and it feels like it’s the last taboo, as well. People are still scared of the D-word. You know, disabled is not a bad word.”
Jenkins became disabled in her 20s. The idea for the fashion brand came to her during a hospital stay, during which she met a cancer survivor who was unable to receive medical care without completely undressing. Jenkins began to brainstorm ideas of how to make the fashion market more inclusive.
“When I had this idea, it was like a light bulb, and just everything changed,” Jenkins said. “And it’s been a real gift. I thankfully haven’t been in hospital in a while. Now, I know, when I do have appointments and things, that I can go there and be dressed how I want to be.”
Unhidden showed off its new collection at LFW on February 17, featuring models with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and visible differences. “Obviously, since becoming disabled, we face challenges in life, and I think that the Unhidden show is just a great concept,” said chef Adrian Carter, who modeled for the show in his wheelchair.
“It makes all the difference,” said Jessica Ping-Wild, who also walked in the show. “Just the idea of a business, or an organization, or a designer taking into consideration the fact that bodies are different — because, realistically, whether you’re disabled or not, nobody has the same body, every body is different. And so to be able to say we’re taking that into consideration, it’s almost breaking that mold of beauty that has been so ingrained in society for centuries.”
Jenkins showed 20 new designs featuring innovative elements at LFW, including tops available in both standing and seated versions, tops with openings in the arms for those who need access for chemotherapy or diabetes treatments, and items with snaps instead of buttons to make it easier for those with reduced dexterity. Jenkins hopes to expand the brand with a line of children’s clothes this summer.
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