Disabled Models Storm The NYFW Runway For Italian Label FTL MODA


This is one of our all-time favorite quotes. It sums up why we exist (to change the visible messages in the media) and exemplifies the power of representation. New York Fashion Week 2015 was less about Kanye (sorry Kanye, or are we?) and his Adidas show featuring a Kardashian or two, and more about lesser known designers making a statement in a truly empowering way.

Carrie Hammer, already used to making history at NYFW once again proved she is all about pushing boundaries by asking down syndrome actress Jamie Brewer to model as part of her ‘Role Models not Runway Models’ show, alongside a slew of female CEOs, such as Shiza Shahid co-founder of the Malala Fund.

In 2014 she was the first designer to send a model in a wheelchair down the runway as part of her show, and it seems her bold breakthroughs are paying off, in style of course.

Italian label FTL MODA made a huge splash with their show ‘Loving You’ which was less about conforming to industry standards and more about the statement of inclusivity and diversity.


The theme was “made in Italy” and the runway show was staged in conjunction with Fondazione Vertical, an Italian foundation supporting research to find a cure for spinal cord injuries, as well as London-based Models of Diversity, a 6 year old agency constantly engaged in training and preparing models to find their way through the most challenging talent  selections in the world.

But this wasn’t just any ordinary follow-on show to Carrie Hammer’s. It was yet another important reminder that there is a huge need to see a wider scope of faces and bodies on the international runway stage. the FTL MODA show also had it’s own “first”. The first male amputee model walked in their show, British personal trainer Jack Eyers, who has his leg amputated when he was only 16 because of a condition called Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, according to the Daily Mail.

He was also just nominated Man of the Year for Men’s Health magazine in the UK.

“It all feels so surreal. I can’t believe this is actually happening. To be the first male amputee model on a New York Fashion Week runway feels amazing – it feels like such a big deal,” he said, and he couldn’t have been more accurate. It IS a big deal!


“I just want to show that having a disability doesn’t need to hold you back. I want people to see me, and to realize that there needs to be more disabled models walking the runway.”

Many of the futuristic and spectacular costumes were designed by Antonio Urzi who has designed outfits for Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, as well as labels such as Armani and Versace. Oh yeah, this was no slapstick show, this was the real deal!

Show producer Ilaria Niccolini told the press it was a significant moment in her fashion career. She pointed out how this show, which will be recreated at Milan Fashion Week in a couple of week is “ready to show that disability is very often just a mental state by performing on the runway next  to some of the best models on the scene”


““Working with Fabrizio Bartoccioni at Vertical Foundation has been a thoughtful and extremely motivating experience, that opened my mind completely and showed me that the wheelchairs or prosthetics are not more than ‘accessories’, extensions of the dress,” she added.

It is about normalizing what has previously been seen as “other” in the past. The fashion industry has such an incredible opportunity to increase revenue streams for many of its brands and labels by diversifying, and it has been painful to see the lack of willingness from well-established brands.

It seems it is the Eden Millers, the Carrie Hammers, the FTL MODA’s, the Rick Owens‘, the Jillian Mecado’s and the up-and-comers of the industry to disrupt the market place and grab hold of the untapped market before the bigger corporations do.



Right now having an amputee on the catwalk or a model in a wheelchair on the runway is a big deal. But the more we see these incredibly strong visual representations, the less “other” it will be and the more normal it becomes. People with disabilities are considered the largest minority in the world and the most underrepresented group in entertainment, and clearly fashion.

Here’s to FTL MODA taking one huge diverse step closer to allowing people with disabilities to be considered a normal part of our society. Check out some of the videos of the show below:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.