Disability: life is not a cover page

Are magazine covers the means to make a change?

Put disability on a cover page, and the life of disabled people improves. But from fashion magazines’ glossy covers to real life, does anything change for those with disabilities? Is accessibility something they arrange when setting up locations, workplaces, or events?

Inclusivity in fashion

British Vogue is one of the most committed magazines on “Reframing Fashion.”

“We want to carry this on and for people to see Vogue is taking that step… We’re not perfect, but we have to create this welcoming space.”
Edward Ennigful – European editorial director of Vogue.

Indeed, considering the positive comments on covers featuring disabled models, it seems change is real and tangible.

Our experience on disability

Our viewpoint is a little different. We understand that a diverse representation may help people broaden their views. But we aren’t satisfied with it. Specifically, we would exchange cover pages with real accessibility on a daily basis to shops, events, locations and so on.

Allow us to explain. I, myself, Ro, writing this post, am a wheelchair user. A few weeks ago, Cri and I attended Milano Design Week. Apart from very few exceptions, most places weren’t accessible. Indeed, we had to exclude some venues a priori. In many other places, I had to stand up and climb one to three steps. Cri had to lift the wheelchair, carry it inside, and then I could sit again.

Thank goodness, I can do that. But what about those who cannot? Those who use electric wheelchairs?

Disability and real accessibility in fashion

Of course, it works the same in fashion showrooms. In the fashion industry, people love to discuss inclusion and diversity on social media, advertising or cover pages, but they do the opposite in everyday life.

I had a disgraceful experience with Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana a few years ago. “Because of Covid”, so they said, I couldn’t access an event they organized. The invitation was for one person, but being in a wheelchair, I needed plus one to help me. They said no. But Camera Moda proudly has a Diversity and Inclusion section! What do they not understand about disability? (You can read the full story here).

What’s the message? Disability is the subject of the cover pages, but please, don’t show up at events? Please, don’t go shopping? Don’t visit a museum or take a train?

What are we talking about showing disability on cover pages? Marketing? That’s what it is. In fact, diversity and inclusion are some of those magnificent fashion bullshit the industry loves!
Just don’t show up in real life!

Disability: life is not a cover page Read More »

Wheelchair? Please, don’t come!

Fashion, disability and non-inclusion

Inclusion and diversity are topics to which we are particularly sensitive. However, we had to overcome a certain discomfort to share this story with you. But if we want to make a change, we have to open up on this matter.

We acknowledged that Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana holds an event, at its second edition, named: “Including Diversity”.

Specifically, on Sept 20th – today – Camera Moda will discuss diversity and inclusion to promote both matters within the Italian fashion system. If you happen to read about it, you may think that the intent is noble and words strong. Everything looks so on point.

Yes, agreed. If only words correspond to facts. 

As we wrote in one of our recent posts, inclusion and diversity are much-discussed topics in the fashion field. We call them “the fashion bullshit” – because the smell of marketing is so strong. 

Inclusion and diversity: facts vs words 

After I was diagnosed with a degenerative disease, I can report a much different reality about fashion and inclusion based on my personal experience. Indeed, being a wheelchair user, I can say that not only showrooms lack accessibility but fashion events too. So, you have to entrust yourself to the empathy of employees working there. And you cannot take that empathy for granted!

In September 2019 – Covid hit the previous season – I was consulting for a brand showing in one of the exhibitions connected to Camera Moda. The designer had an invitation for an event dedicated to fashion buyers and emerging designers. Consequently, he invited me. 
I couldn’t go alone. I needed help with my wheelchair. And so, the designer informed the Camera Moda press office of the plus-one necessity. Something that shouldn’t require much explanation. No?

Their response was that because of the pandemic, they had limited access, so I wasn’t allowed to go with another person.
Of course, it meant I couldn’t take part in the event. 

My friends were shocked by the idea that I put myself in the position of asking permission. In the case of walking disability, plus-one is a fact, period. But I was afraid any reaction would cause problems for the brand I worked for.

Disappointed by that reply, I posted something on my Instagram. I was fuming, frustrated. Unable to reply as they deserved in that precise moment. Shortly after, a beautiful human DM’d me checking if she got my message right.

Laura Mohapi, a talented artist based in London, supported me. Also, she thought I had to address what happened and offered to write a letter to Camera Moda on my behalf. The idea of having to explain made me feel so bad, even if I knew it was right, so her offer was very welcome.

I read the letter she wrote, and it was like receiving a punch in my stomach. I pondered a lot. But finally, I decided to forward it by email.

No response in my inbox. Probably it went ignored. And so I sent a registered letter too.

This time the message got a little attention. Not that much. Indeed, I received in my inbox a forwarded email – in English. They didn’t even bother to make an effort to copy the English version they received and paste it into a new email. They paid zero attention to the form, giving the impression that what happened had no relevance for them. Or perhaps, they weren’t familiar with how to handle official emails. 

In the end, it took me almost two years to find the courage to write about it. But the sadness, frustration and disappointment when I see those “Include Diversity” events still make me feel sickened.

And so, Cri and I wonder: when they launch those events for the fashion industry, what do they really mean?

Wheelchair? Please, don’t come! Read More »

The fashion bullshit

A list of notorious fashion marketing empty claims

The fashion industry loves to discuss important matters that we would better describe as fashion bullshit.

How does the system work?
As soon as a new concept becomes popular in the fashion field, the proclamation gets released. So the word spreads. As a result, marketing takes over the subject right away. And, once marketing steps in, you can feel the smell of it. Indeed, you will perceive a sense of fakeness that permeates the whole set of communication.

As voices outside the chorus, we’ve created a list of some of the fashion bullshit: terms that, the more people in the field put at the centre of the discussion, the more they sound weird.

The fashion bullshit list:

usually said about things done and redone. Again and again. Eye roll when you hear this word.

a kind of mystical belief we like to talk about, but never happens.

or the fake representation of it. What remains after the voluntary shift towards overproduction and mass distribution.

Affordable luxury:
a total absurdity launched to compensate for the collapse of real luxury.

the biggest bullshit of our times. The majority of designers who wave this flag have no design imprint. Therefore, have no reason to exist.

possible or allowed only in fashion shows or advertising.

possible or allowed only in fashion shows or advertising.

possible or allowed only in fashion advertising. But please, don’t show up during fashion event!

gender-fluidity is popular in fashion shootings. But when you go shopping, items are divided by categories. And so, the shop assistant kindly invites you to shop in the section assigned to your gender.

possible only as co-branding (sharing a profit). However, very rare among fashion professionals as a genuine exchange.

did not report.

Does anyone have anything to add to this list?

The fashion bullshit Read More »