A true icon.
The Business of Fashion is a website about the economy of the fashion industry – but twice a year, it brings out a print magazine.
The latest issue concerns itself with ‘The Age Of Influence’, and centres on two worthy cover stars: Kim Kardashian and Irish activist Sinéad Burke.
If you don’t already know Sinéad, you need to get acquainted, because Oprah, RuPaul, and Joe Biden already do. The Navan native is a leading advocate for inclusivity in design, and has made it her mission to get fashion to open up to disabled people.
She’s spoken about this topic in a widely-viewed TED Talk, as well as at the Business of Fashion’s VOICES conference and the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Sinéad’s BoF cover was shot by renowned photographer Tim Walker, and features her cutting up a Burberry trench to fit her:
So, so striking.
In the accompanying interview, Sinéad tells editor Tim Blanks about her lifelong love of fashion – and her frustrations at its ‘exclusivity’.
In order for the disabled market to be relevant customers and to have their voices validated, there has to be power sharing. There are very few people within the fashion industry in positions of power who have lived experience or an empathy within this arena.
She wants brands to involve disabled people in the design process to learn what they actually want and need from a product: “If they design for difference without a tangible understanding, the product becomes patronising. Or it comes about that we think only in terms of function.”
I started my foray into fashion almost a decade ago because I felt excluded from the industry. It feels very surreal to even type this, but I had the honour and privilege to spend today with @Burberry as they have kindly offered to dress me for #BoFVoices. I cannot wait to show you what I’m wearing and am beyond grateful to Alice, Niamh, Ruby and Lola for their time, wit and curiosity today. Dream come true. ? @niamhwatmore
Sinéad mentions her partnership with Burberry as an example of this in action – they offered to dress her for the VOICES conference, and re-tailored existing garments for her.
“All it takes is an individual advocate who can use their platform within the company,” she says. “My money is the same as yours, why am I limited to shopping for items that don’t fit properly and don’t help me command respect and own a space?”
You can read the full interview here. Bualadh bos, Sinéad.
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