Published on: June 23, 2023

Being fashionable and following the latest trends in wearing designer clothes is no longer restricted to those who are ‘normal’ in the eyes of the world, if a fashion show in Kollam, Kerala recently is any indication.

During the Institute of Fashion Technology Kerala (IFTK)-organised event, four people living with disabilities (PLWD), all wheelchair users, turned out to be showstoppers and drew rounds of applause from the audience with their flair and finesse.

The “fashionable clothing is everyone’s right”, message was loud and clear as the four models, beneficiaries of a Pallium India initiative, donned specially-designed attire as part of the bridal wear collection proving easy-wear need not compromise on style.

The fashion show was organised as a passing out event of IFTK students.

Among the models on the ramp were four Pallium India beneficiaries: Nishan Nizar, Akhil S. Sam, Preetha J. and Deepu J.J. Nishan is a familiar name in the modelling circles, while Preetha is known for her costume jewellery making expertise.

The star of the show was 23-year-old Nishan, who is on a wheelchair since a road accident five years ago, and for him, this wasn’t a first. “I have always loved fashionable clothes and being stylish is my personality,” he said. “I have done several national fashion shows and I keep working on my dream of becoming an international model and participate in fashion shows in Paris.”

The dashing Badass Nation brand ambassador, who has done shows in Goa and Bangalore, among others, believes one has to bring the best out in any given situation. “I am currently studying and working. I love to travel and, taking that passion forward, in partnership with a friend, I have registered a company named Caravan, to organise group tours for the PLWD community,” he said. “My dream is an inclusive world.”

A Pallium India volunteer said the PLWD usually compromise on clothes because there aren’t many options. “As a result, they end up wearing basic designs and limited colours. People with disabilities may have different requirements in terms of design and most are unable to wear normal clothes.”

He said Pallium India was in talks with some designers with the hope of bringing out a line of clothing for people with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs, keeping the younger group in mind.

The fashion show was an opportunity to highlight the fact that the PLWD had a right to life with colours and style. “Sadly, at the moment, dress options for them are limited to very few designs, most of them not even comfortable to wear or change.”

The goal is to offer a trendy, colourful and easy-to-wear line of clothing for the elderly, children with cerebral palsy and others with mobility issues. “We hope to produce these for people to match their physical needs, in collaboration with likeminded fashion designers. We had briefly worked with Kottayam-based international designer Joe Ikareth, in the past.”

“We are already engaging PLWD and spouses of our beneficiaries in the production of cushions, bags, pillow covers and masks, for many years, with machines provided by Pallium India.”

Pallium India hopes to involve its beneficiaries in the production of custom clothing for this group, and offer simple but stylish designs at affordable price.

One response to “Ramp Walkers Turn Showstoppers”

  1. ManS says:

    Well written – makes a strong case for inclusiveness 🌟