‘No one should be ostracised from fashion’

Lucy Dawson

Lucy Dawson, our Change 100 intern, explores disability representation in the modelling industry.

No one should be ostracised from fashion (or anything else for that matter!) due to their size or physical/mental condition.

Kathleen Humberstone's manager

When researching diversity in the fashion industry, I came across some of inspiring movers and shakers in the fashion and beauty world. These brands and individuals are working to develop new products, designs and platforms, hoping to improve the ‘fashion experience’ for disabled people and make the industry more inclusive. 

One that stood out to me was model management agency named Zebedee Model Management.

This agency prides itself on ensuring their talent can achieve anything that they want. Laura Johnson and Zoe Proctor, who run the agency, recognised that disability is often left out of the diversity debate.

They strive to see advertisements and campaigns using individuals with disabilities becoming commonplace. 

Through this agency I had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen Humberstone, a 20-year-old model with Downs Syndrome. 

I chatted to her mum, who is also her manager, about the importance of diversity and accessible fashion.

She said:

‘Did you just say accessible fashion?

Photo credit: Scallywag Fox

‘A dream yet to come true for so many, despite wonderful and promising breakthroughs from some pioneering designers and leading high street brands.

‘Accessible. Fashion. We need to help these two once-upon-a-time fiends achieve their goal of becoming best buddies. The mere sight or sound of these words right next to each other would have been unthinkable not so long ago. Indeed, they would have been laughed at.

‘And yet, today they are challenging so many, appealing to their sense of what is fair and what is right.

‘It can be done! There needs to be mindfulness and inclusion from the first link of the creative process all the way to the last ones. From advertising campaigns, the point of entry to the stores and their display and fitting rooms, to the ordering process online.

‘No one should be ostracised from fashion (or anything else for that matter!) due to their size or physical/mental condition.’

When asked if she thought fashion should be accessible to everyone model Kathleen enthused:

‘Yes, I want everyone to love and enjoy fashion like I do!’