Traditionally, high-end fashion has not been an area which allows for much diversity. Walking down the runway or printed on the pages of a magazine, you are likely to see model after model with the “perfect” figure and “flawless” features with little exception. But lately, some fashion retailers and designers have realized that their client base is comprised of people from all walks of life, some of whom are amputees, or are otherwise disabled.
Nordstrom generated quite a buzz when they featured four models with disabilities in their July catalog. These models included people with MS and Down syndrome, as well as a model who is an amputee. The disabled make up 20 percent of the population, but are often under-represented in fashion and media. By featuring a diverse selection of models, Nordstrom is hoping to reflect the diversity of its customers. One third of the ads in their catalog include models of color or models with disabilities.
The effects of the Nordstrom catalog extend far beyond the world of fashion. By making a point to feature amputees and disabled people in their anniversary sale catalog, Nordstrom is setting an example for other companies to reflect their customer base more accurately. People who don’t conform to perceived ideals are regularly overlooked in advertising. In reality, actual customers come in an infinite number of shapes and sizes. When amputees and people with disabilities are shown in a positive and public light, it paints a more accurate picture of what a normal person looks like. It’s beneficial for everyone to be exposed to different types of people, and to see real people modeling products that are made for everyone.
The Nordstrom catalog isn’t the only place where amputees are being featured in the world of high-end fashion. At the World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto, marathon runner Amy Winters walked down the runway sporting a long sleeved black dress, high heels, and an intricately designed prosthetic leg accessory which resembles metal armor. Athlete Aimee Mullins, who is a double amputee, has had great success as a model. She has been photographed by some of the world’s most prominent photographers, and was appointed as a L’Oréal ambassador in 2011.
One of the models featured in the Nordstrom catalog is former Marine Alex Minsky. Minsky lost his right leg in Afghanistan when a bomb exploded sending him into a coma for almost two months. He turned to the gym during recovery, and it was there that he met a photographer who introduced the idea of modeling. Since then, Minsky has enjoyed a successful career as an underwear and fashion model. He hopes that he can inspire others to overcome their disabilities and to never give up. “Just because I don’t have a leg,” he said, “doesn’t mean it’s going to slow me down.” Minsky will be featured in an upcoming photo shoot for UNYQ.
“Just because I don’t have a leg,” he said, “doesn’t mean it’s going to slow me down.”
The fashion world is expanding its focus to include a more diverse range of people. Amputees and the disabled are more frequently being featured as high-fashion models. Companies like Nordstrom are realizing the importance of changing the standard of beauty. Models like Alex Minsky are breaking through barriers and making fashion accessible to everyone. We look forward to share the pictures of Alex wearing our prosthetic covers in the upcoming weeks.