In what the magazine itself is touting as “a movement, not a moment”, British Vogue
has put the stories of 19 people living with disability at the forefront of their May issue, in a move it hopes will promote conversations around disability in the media and broader society.
Cover stars for the magazine’s May issue, which the title called ‘Reframing Fashion: Dynamic, Daring & Disabled’, include activist Sinéad Burke, actor Selma Blair, models Aaron Rose Philip and Ellie Goldstein, and sign language performer Justina Miles, best known for interpreting Rihanna’s Super Bowl half-time show.
The edition also features the UK’s first blind and black female barrister, Jessika Inaba, and details some of her experiences such as using braille to read legal documents.
The magazine’s production team brought in an accessibility consultancy to ensure photography studios are disability accessible, with the consultancy introducing measures including quiet rooms, moveable clothing rails and adaptable make-up chairs.
It follows similar moves by Australian Fashion Week (AFW) to bring the issue of diversity and inclusion to the forefront of the sector. In 2022 AFW attracted international media attention by showcasing the first-ever runway dedicated to inclusive, adaptive, clothing where it featured both disabled and able-bodied models.
The magazine also collaborated with the Royal National Institute of Blind People to produce a braille and audio version of the issue.
In a clear sign of his intention to progress the issue, British Vogue Editor-in-chief Edward Enninful said he is prepared to take a financial hit to support values of diversity and inclusivity in his magazine. He said he has even turned down advertising from major fashion brands who do not share his vision of inclusivity.
In an editorial for the magazine, Enninful wrote the project had been years in the making, with the original idea coming in 2018, the year after he became editor-in-chief.
Enninful, who lives with a chronic blood disorder and experiences issues with his sight and hearing, said the project “felt personal”.
“The time has come for us to get real about who we are as a society, and for fashion to build a better, more accessible and inclusive industry.”
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Image: British Vogue. Photograph by Adama Jalloh.