Month: February 2014

Wheels of Fortune: The “purple pound” and disabled people as consumers of fashion

Jillian Mercado in Diesel’s We Are Connected Spring/Summer ’14 Campaign (Photo: Inez & Vinoodh) [Image description: A photograph of a man and a woman in front of a blue background. The man had bleach-blonde hair. He is sitting on the floor and is wearing a denim shirt and jeans. Next to him is a woman with short bleach-blonde hair. She is seated in a power wheelchair and is wearing a denim shirt-dress. The text in the image reads “WE ARE CONNECTED #DIESELREBOOT]

Back in the day when it still had a forum, the BBC’s disability section, Ouch!, had a board called “I’ve just seen a disabled person on the TV!”. The fact was (and still is) that seeing disabled people on television or in other media is uncommon enough that when it does happen, it grabs the attention of any interested parties, usually disabled people themselves, who view these appearances with a mixture of interest and dread at how disability is represented (I’m not judging, I’m so notorious at doing this I’m devoting a three year doctoral degree to it). Two recent stories in particular have got me excited and exhausted in equal measure, and have made me think about not only disability visibility in fashion, but the ways in which disabled people are increasingly being seen as consumers in the fashion industry.