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Runway style for those with physical disabilities

New York

AMID a week of shows dominated by fashion icons like Calvin Klein and Tom Ford, the Runway of Dreams Foundation (RODF) gave a presentation on Wednesday devoted to stylish looks created specially for people with physical challenges.

In the "Fashion Revolution" event held on the eve of the first official day of New York Fashion Week, the shows previewing the hottest Spring 2019 looks featured 30 models with disabilities who hit the runway wearing adaptive clothing by design houses Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Target.

Designer and RODF founder Mindy Scheier said the idea for the foundation came from her son Oliver, who lives with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. He had told his family that he really wanted to wear "what everybody else gets to wear", she said.

"That truly opened my eyes to the needs of not only my son Oliver, but the millions of people - almost 60 million in the US and a billion globally - with a disability."

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Model Hannah Gavios, sporting a Nike creation, said the show provided a unique opportunity not just for fashion buyers, but for professionals like herself. "I don't feel like I should have to hide my leg braces," said the 25-year-old who fell off a cliff in 2016 and suffered a spinal injury.

"I don't feel like I should have to wear anything over it. I don't want people to see anything bumpy underneath my pants - I want to be able to show them off but I want them to look cool and I want it to be part of my style and represent my fashion and who I am, my personality."

Ms Scheier started RODF, which works with the fashion industry to include people with disabilities fully through adaptive clothing as well as clothing donations, in 2014.

"We have scholarship programmes for the next generation of designers who are working with adaptive clothing, because our belief is that everybody deserves to wear what they want to wear and it's time for the industry to understand that people come in all different shapes, sizes and abilities."

RJ Mitte, who starred on the award-winning television series Breaking Bad and has a mild form of cerebral palsy, hosted the event.

Retired naval officer and founder of the non-profit clothing organisation "Wounded Wear" Jason Redman, who suffered a military injury, was honoured as a source of inspiration. REUTERS

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