See The Able, Not The Label

By Amanda Kong

Last Saturday marked a milestone in raising social awareness about inclusive fashion as 2nd year law students of BAC held a fashion show like none other at the Central Piazza, KL Gateway Mall. It was unique for one significant reason – the conventional tall and slender runway models were this time replaced by persons with disabilities.

Organised by a group of students, aptly named ‘Under-rated’ and in partnership with the Asian Designers Guild founded by leading fashion designer Bill Keith, the show themed ‘Glamour Includes’, hinges on Sustainable Development Goal 10 for reduced inequalities.

The event was graced by Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil and Senator Bathmavathi Krishnan, a special needs advocate.

Being included isn’t a privilege, it is a right. This holds true as Glamour Includes is a fashion show for the differently abled community. Eight wonderful individuals together with eight Malaysian fashion designers from the Asian Designers Guild (ADG) collaborated for the very first time with one message in mind; inclusion of those with disabilities into the fashion world.

The arrival of Glamour Includes also presents a great opportunity to talk about disability and fashion.

There are two main issues to tackle. Firstly, current fashionable clothes have not been traditionally designed with those with limited mobility in mind. For example, buttons or zips would immediately present a challenge to many. With over a million wheelchair users in Malaysia alone, this is a significant group to exclude.

Secondly, adapted clothes for those with disabilities have habitually been a bit lacklustre. Fashion brands tend to focus on practicability rather than aesthetic appearance, hence resulting in serious lack of trendy clothing which is functional for the differently abled community.

I was grateful to be given an opportunity to be one of the models. This is the first fashion show I attended, and I got to experience a catwalk for the very first time. The efforts and initiatives taken by BAC and the designers from ADG to make this event a success is truly appreciated.

I got to know and also work with various amazing individuals. It is a great start to promote inclusivity for persons with disability in the Malaysian fashion industry.

About Amanda Kong

Diagnosed with congenital glaucoma as a young child, Amanda Kong Hwei Zhen could see bright colours and shades of light. But this did not deter her from defying the odds to secure a First Class law degree from the University of Liverpool. Currently, Amanda is pursuing her pupillage at one of Malaysia’s oldest, largest and most awarded legal firms in the country, Skrine & Co.