Amid continued Covid concerns and general malaise over the state of the country, New York Fashion Week will open with a show that inspires inclusion and acceptance.
The Runway of Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organization working to create opportunities for people with disabilities in the fashion industry, will kick off the week of much-anticipated exhibitions with a virtual fashion show on Sept. 14.
Dubbed the Fashion Revolution, the show will bring together brands that have paved the path for adaptive apparel in mainstream fashion, including Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, Zappos Adaptive, Kohl’s, Target and Stride Rite, known for its Journey adaptable sneakers which launched this summer.
The labels will be brought together on the same virtual runway and modeled by 25 individuals of all abilities, including gold medal snowboarder Brenna Huckaby, activist Grace Strobel, motivational speaker Brandon Farbstein and author Keah Brown. All-American designer and adaptive apparel pioneer Tommy Hilfiger will provide an introduction to the show and the featured lines, alongside Runway of Dreams Founder and CEO Mindy Scheier.
The event will also debut new music from Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen and his wife Lauren Monroe, Kenny Aronoff and Steve Ferrone of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Proceeds from their collaborative song, “Big Love,” will be donated to Project Resiliency, Allen and Monroe’s non-profit benefiting veterans and mental health. Shane Burcaw and Hannah Alyward, both authors and YouTube stars, will emcee the show, while Steve Way, a comedian with muscular dystrophy who stars in Hulu’s “Ramy,” will provide a comedy set.
“Fashion week has been greatly impacted by the current pandemic,” Scheier said in a statement. “However, we believe the show must go on, and are so excited to present our annual NYFW show virtually, reaching a global audience.”
Scheier noted that this event will mark the first time that Runway of Dreams has brought together five leading mainstream brands in support of people with disabilities.
Software giant SAP will sponsor the show, she added, and will provide an app powered by machine learning that allows watchers to identify items of clothing as they come down the runway. App users can add items to their wish lists and purchase them straight from their mobile devices. After the show, SAP’s data will be compiled and shared with designers to inform production runs and provide insights into the best-performing styles.
The Americans With Disabilities Act, which outlawed discrimination against citizens with mental or physical medical conditions, celebrated its 30th anniversary this July. Reflecting on the company’s foray into adaptive apparel in 2016, Gary Sheinbaum, CEO of Tommy Hilfiger Americas said, “We realized that the fashion industry had largely overlooked people with disabilities,” adding that “there was a huge white space for stylish adaptive clothing.” The brand recently launched Tommy Adaptive in Japan, Europe, and Australia.
“We have had the opportunity for more conversations with our brand partners about the importance of inclusive design, which will create more accessible products for everyone,” said Dana Zumbo, who leads business development for Zappos Adaptive, which made its debut in 2017. “Over the last three years since Zappos Adaptive launched, we have seen more awareness in general as it relates to inclusion in the fashion industry,” she said in July.