“Hard work never ends”

Three years before “manifesting” became the new health craze at the end of 2020, Aaron Rose Philip posted on Twitter that when she was finally signed to a modeling agency, it would be “THE END for everyone.” And she was right.

Philip, a transgender Antiguan American model who was born with cerebral palsy, has published a book, profiled by New York Times AND Voguewas interviewed by her idol Naomi Campbell, starred in many high-profile fashion editorials, served as grand marshal for the 2021 New York City Pride Parade and performed in a Miley Cyrus music video – all before turning 21 .

So yeah, it was over for all of us the second she decided to pursue the fashion industry as a junior in high school.

“I’m someone who has lived 50 lives in 21 years,” she told In The Know. “I definitely use fashion as an outlet for my personal happiness and self-expression.”

Philip is now managed by Community New York and Milk Management London and has been modeling for nearly five years now. But as she continues to add to her already impressive resume, she still expects disability to become an equal part of the conversation about the need for more diversity within fashion and beauty.

“I had many opportunities [in which] the client may go back on their decision to dump me or the job ‘just doesn’t work’ in general because they are unable to cope with my disability,” explained Philip.

Physical impairment is the most common form of disability in the US – affecting one in seven adults. Fashion is a profit-driven industry that still fails to create adaptive clothing for a significant portion of the population. In a commercial sense, ignoring disability and failing to create adaptive lines misses out on the $13 trillion in disposable income that the annual Global Disability Economy report claims comes from shoppers with disabilities.

Although some brands have tried to look to the future and be more inclusive, the approach to adaptive clothing also matters – as illustrated by the backlash Nike faced in April 2021 after raising the price of a limited-edition sneaker. the first without hands. .

“People with disabilities consume and wear clothes like everyone else,” said Philip. “[We] regularly deserve to have space and time in fashion.”

This space and time must also be accurate representations of disability, not performance. In a 2021 research paper on diversity in the fashion industry, author Aliyah Walker described how when disability is included in fashion shoots or runway shows, it is “overwhelmingly represented through tokenism.”

For example, in 2015, interview magazine featured a photo shoot of Kylie Jenner, who is able-bodied, sitting in a wheelchair. In response to backlash to the cover, interview released a statement saying the photos were meant to “get people thinking about image and creative expression”.

“So disabled models can’t get jobs or advance in the fashion industry, but Kylie jenner can use a wheelchair and be classed as nerdy.” one Twitter user surmised following interview’no comment

“Hard work never ends,” Philip agreed. “When other brands decide to do the important work and include talent with disabilities, then they too will be the future [of fashion].”

One of those brands doing the important work is Moschino, the luxury Italian fashion label, which included Philip in its spring-summer 2022 fashion show at New York Fashion Week. To this day, Philip describes the experience as her favorite fashion moment.

“I cried for days from happiness,” she said.

Creative director Jeremy Scott had worked with Philip before – Scott had chosen Philip as the face of Moschino’s autumn-winter 2020 campaign. But a runway debut was historic – both professionally for Philip and because a big show New York Fashion Week had never before featured a model with a physical disability.

Just a year ago, Vogue Writer Emily Farra had complained in the days leading up to New York Fashion Week 2021 that the fashion world’s understanding of inclusivity was “limited”.

“In my nearly decade of reporting fashion week, I’ve never heard a designer mention how their collection might appeal to someone with limited use of their arms or how a new pair of pants would work for someone with a prosthesis. ,” Farra wrote. “The concern is the same as that created by decades of exclusively white, size 00 models.”

The inclusion problem is not solved by having Philip walk the runway. Even in the glow of fulfilling a lifelong dream, Philip still sees how much the fashion industry needs to grow.

“[There is] so much work to do in terms of hiring talent with disabilities,” she said. “Whether it’s being attentive to the needs of talent with disabilities … having talent with disabilities behind and in front of the camera, whether it’s having a producer with disabilities on set, having a director with disabilities or talent with disabilities casting a role … those opportunities just barely exist in the industry anymore.”

For more education on disability, inclusion and the fashion industry, Aaron Rose Philip recommends following these people on social media:

Jillian Mercado: Actress, model. Philip called Mercado one of her inspirations and fashion models.

La’shaunae Steward: Model.

Devin Halbal: Travel Influencer.

Casil Mcarthur: Model.

Julian Gavino: Model.

Dominique Castelano: Model, actress.

Selina Shine: Model, musician.

The post Aaron Rose Philip won’t wait for the fashion industry to catch up: ‘The hard work is never over’ appeared first on In The Know.

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