“Fashion can be and should be for everyone.”

New Zealand Fashion Week is strutting a new look—diversity and inclusion. In addition to announcing plans to recruit 100 disabled volunteers, New Zealand Fashion Week has also unveiled a commitment to diverse modelling, culminating in their first diversity seminar. Furthermore, the world’s first intellectually disabled fashion show at a Fashion Week will take place. “Living Colour” will feature garments from New Zealand’s top designers, and will be worn by models with intellectual disabilities.

“Fashion can—and should be—for everyone,” said Dame Pieter Stewart, NZFW founder and managing director. “That’s why we’re so excited and proud to have such a strong focus on diversity and inclusivity at this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week.”

The event’s new additions include volunteer recruitment, through which NZFW worked with the Ministry of Social Development to place 100 New Zealanders with disabilities into volunteer positions. Other initiatives included model casting, where transgender, racially diverse, plus size, and disabled models were included, an intellectually disabled fashion show, where New Zealand’s first-ever fashion show for people with intellectual disabilities will take place in conjunction with Dance for Abilities.

“We’re really excited to get the opportunity to open another door for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Daniel Hopkirk, Dance for Abilities director. “Fashion can sometimes be
viewed as unattainable to a lot of people in society, but with forward-thinking people like Dame Pieter Stewart, we’ve been given the opportunity to showcase to people that fashion can be fun for everyone.”

In addition to the new initiatives, there are also several designers showcasing at NZFW that embody diversity and inclusion. Lenon Wakuwa is a non-binary who will showcase their androgynous fashion brand, Adhala Lenzo. They are recognisable from New Zealand’s Project Runway. Natasha Ovely produces a gender-neutral, sustainable and size-inclusive range of clothes that help create body positivity and individuality. And finally, Cecilia Kang Couture has already received media attention for her humble charm and impressive self-taught design skills.

New Zealand Fashion Weeks starts on August 26th.