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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Nordstrom and JC Penney both featuring disabled models in latest campaigns

Freya Drohan

Published 22/07/2014 | 12:16

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Both major retailers are committed to greater representation in the fashion industry.

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American department store Nordstrom has just released its annual ‘Anniversary’ catalogue, as part of it’s hotly anticipated yearly pre-Autumn sale.

Inside the catalogue is Jillian Mercado, a 26-year-old who has spastic muscular dystrophy.

The Latino fashion blogger and aspiring model has been confined to a wheelchair since she was 12 years old, but this is not the first time she has appeared in advertisements for a major brand.

With her trademark lilac cropped hair, she featured in a denim campaign for Diesel earlier this year.

In the catalogue, Mercado sits in her wheelchair modeling next season’s merchandise along with a male model wearing a prosthetic leg.

Nordstrom have been using models with disabilities for almost 20 years.

Their spokeswoman Tara Darrow says, “We don’t promote it or go out and talk about it. We just think they look great.”

Tara added that using these models is "really about reflecting the customers and communities we serve. We serve diverse customers and it's an opportunity for them to see themselves when they're looking through the book or online.”

Also this week, J.C. Penney unveiled five new window mannequins at its Manhattan store, proving their commitment to represent their diverse range of customers.

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Inspired by The Today Show’s ‘Love Your Selfie’ campaign which promotes positive body image, the mannequins are modelled on real people.

As part of the company’s ‘When It Fits You Feel It’ campaign, the mannequins are based around Dawna Callahan, who uses a wheelchair; Ricardo Gil, who has dwarfism; Desiree Hunter, a 6-foot-1½-inch basketball player; plus sized Beth Ridgeway, and Neil Duncan, a former Army member who lost parts of his legs in Afghanistan.

The mannequins will be displayed at JCPenney’s Manhattan store until the end of August.

Thanks to the efforts of trailblazing global brands and companies, we are beginning to see a greater representation of figures in print advertisements and body shapes in stores.

Irish retailers, it is time to follow suit.

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