I just wanted to share with you all something a little different which I have been involved with over the past few months. In October last year, I was approached by London Runway and asked if I’d be happy for them to use a photograph of me which was used on social media for the #SBChallenge in their magazine.
London Runway, for issue 55 wanted to team up with Samanta Bullock’s #SBChallenge to present a series of magazine covers starring disabled models.
Disabled people only appear in 0.1% of fashion communications. This was the starting point for the #SBChallenge, set up in response to the #Voguechallenge that flew around social media, prompting users to post an image of themselves mocked up as a Vogue cover.
More than 1000 posts have already been submitted via the hashtag, showcasing the fact that those who don’t often see themselves in the media are craving representation. The challenge is not just about posting the images – it’s part of a wider campaign designed to raise awareness of the fact that disabled people are hugely underrepresented compared to their percentage of the population.
How meaningful can this be, to see yourself represented at last? For some, it can have a life-changing effect, helping to boost self-confidence and serving as a reminder that you are not alone. Another aim of the project is to push forward the slow process of changing the levels of inclusivity offered in the fashion world. Most fashion brands, whether they are high street or couture, don’t consider the disabled customer when creating their lines – which is a shame both for the consumer and the company, because this is a huge sector of the buying market being overlooked.
Inclusive clothes don’t have to be made specifically for wheelchair users, or those with other physical impairments or challenges. In fact, they can look like perfectly ‘normal’ clothes – but their design includes thought towards those who may have different needs. For example, imagine a coat which unzips at the side to allow coverage of the legs when seated, then zips up for a more streamlined silhouette when standing – making it easy to wear for those in wheelchairs as well as being an everyday fashionable item. By the way, you don’t have to imagine it – Gunda Hafner’s Woven Check Coat already exists, and is available from Samanta Bullock’s online store.
Inclusivity and diversity are key goals at London Runway, so when they heard about the #SBChallenge, they knew they had to get involved in some way. They then liaised with the organisers of the hashtag and brought together some of their favourite cover models, who had previously posted on the tag, and I was lucky enough to be one of them.
This then lead to those models also featuring in issue 57 of the magazine, the last one of 2020, The Gold issue. This issue featured a record number of cover models and full page images of each model inside too.
Creating this cover and the images was really fun. We of course couldn’t be together due to Covid restrictions so we had our photo shoots individually before Christmas and then the cover was created from there.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank London Runway for their commitment to being inclusive and promoting diversity in their magazine. It’s so important and they certainly have set an example to other media/fashion outlets and brands to what is possible with just a little bit of thought.