JAM the label have launched a video designed to be an accessibility tool. Image supplied.
Inclusion can be a deceptive thing, from the outside it can look like things are going well but when it comes to the likes of creating space for models with disabilities that isn’t always the case. Australian-based JAM the label who are an inclusive brand and an ally to the disability community have created a resource video to do something about that.
Disabilities are something that JAM the label Co-Founders and Occupational Therapists, Emma Clegg and Molly Rogers, work with in their careers and through their observations saw a need for functional fashion suitable for all abilities. Adaptive fashion has been rightfully receiving more attention recently with mainstream companies like The Iconic recognising the opportunity presented by labels like JAM and including them in their highly successful ‘Adaptive Edit’ which launched earlier this year. Being inclusive is not exactly straight forward and when people with disabilities aren’t involved or consulted in the process things that are well intentioned can miss the mark.
Working with disabled models for their own shoots, Emma and Molly heard stories about how things have gone awry on other sets, with accessibility needs not met and inappropriate interactions. That was where the inspiration came from for JAM’s video which is essentially an accessibility ‘How To’ designed to assist brands and people to better understand how to create an inclusive space, set and engage with disabled models. The video is designed to be a useful tool that enables brands and people with disabilities to work together in a clear and confident way, allowing everyone to be able to do their best work on set.
“We know that brands are wanting to include those with disabilities but may be intimidated or don’t want to make a wrong step when starting out,” says Molly Rogers, Co-Founder of JAM. “We wanted to give other labels the confidence to engage with the disability community and thought that a practical how-to video coming from another fashion brand would provide an approachable starting point.”
As more brands launch campaigns featuring disabled talent, the demand is increasing and while some models are signed to agencies like Aotearoa’s All is for All, often models are found for campaigns on social media which can exacerbate the problem. An agency will make sure that a brand is briefed properly on what to expect but it’s also up to brands to create accessible working environments too.
“Brands don’t need to be experts in accessibility, however it is their responsibility to consider each person on set’s unique lived experience and feel confident in asking for their personal accessibility needs,” says Emma Clegg, Co-Founder of JAM. “Equally as important is following through to ensure those needs are met and respected.”
Grace Stratton, All is for All co-founder, is appreciative of JAM’s efforts and the impact the brand is having, “We are really happy to see JAM on the Iconic’s Adaptive Edit and see them go from strength to strength, this video is a very smart way to make it easy for brands to be more accessible.”
Everyone deserves to be included and to ensure accessibility is more than a trend and that models with disabilities continue to grow their presence in campaigns it’s crucial that brands utilise tools like this video created by JAM. If brands are going to use disabled models, they should also be allies to the disability community, which means not relying on the model who is disabled to educate them, but creating space for that model to succeed.
“To us, being authentic allies means more than just having disabled models in our marketing images,” add Emma and Molly. “Our role as allies isn’t to make assumptions that we understand the whole community based off one individual’s experience. Each person is unique and it is our responsibility to meet their individual needs.”