We can probably all agree the fashion industry is changing for the better. There is more diversity and inclusion for POC/BAME and different religions. Yet, what are we doing for disability in the industry? Let me introduce Zebedee. By managing creatives with disabilities, they are improving the fashion industry (and in the best way!).
Introducing Zebedee Management
Zebedee Management is an agency which supports those with physical and mental disabilities. Not only this, but they also support those with ‘alternative’ appearances and trans/non-binary. The fashion industry often excludes people in these categories and therefore lacks diversity in this matter.
Established in 2017, it is the first agency of it’s kind to focus on supporting those who lack creative opportunities. Fortunately, the industry has improved with the help of Zebedee and has now over 500 models and actors across Europe and the US (that’s what we like to hear!).
Zebedee Management was built upon foundations of inequality and a lack of diversity. The agency aims to improve these two things.
The first issue they aim to improve, is the lack of diversity in the industry. Not only are they focusing on the fashion industry, but also the media and advertising industries. The three industries have improved diversity by using races other than white, and religions other than Christian (society’s standard). Yet, they tend to forget other social inequalities, such as those for disabled people or trans/non-binary.
“Importantly, disability has often been left out of the diversity debate” Zebedee Management
In addition, the second concern they focus on improving, is the lack of opportunities for those with disabilities and the help they get. Zebedee mentions the opportunities that come up calling for ‘diversity’, with no recognition of disability included in this.
Why the need for improvement
To accomplish real diversity and to claim inclusivity, we actually need to include everyone. We cannot boast about being inclusive and diverse whilst still ignoring a large amount of people. Additionally, we must provide them with the same opportunities others may get offered. By acknowledging everyone, industries such as fashion and media can avoid continuing to alienate and neglect those who need support.
We need to normalise the idea of differences between us. Increasing the number of advertisements or TV shows with actors/models who have disabilities, helps normalise this. There are many differences between us, and this is a positive thing! For instance, think of it as a uniform – when everyone is wearing the same clothes, it is considered boring.
Everything and everyone looks the same, there is nothing to differentiate us! So let’s ditch the uniform and show real diversity. As a result, those who have been neglected for many years, can finally feel appreciated.
Achievements so far
A lot has been achieved over the past three years of Zebedee. As a result, each opportunity has helped in improving the fashion industry. Various advertisements, photo-shoots, runways and acting careers have been accomplished with the help of the agency. Below is a number of different campaigns and individuals alongside their achievements:
River Island’s ad campaign which used Kathleen Humberstone, a model with down-syndrome, to promote a world without labels
Gucci Beauty and Ellie Goldstein’s beauty campaign
Monique Dior Jarrett and her many accomplishments, including the cover of Grazia
5-year old Riley Baxter, the new face of Mothercare
Every accomplishment that the models and actors achieve with the agency, helps build the normalisation of difference. Those who may appear different should feel supported and encouraged to apply for a fashion campaign or an acting role. Why does someone with an alternative appearance deserve any less that someone who looks the same as everyone else?
Can I be part of the community?
Yes! For instance, whether you are applying on your own behalf or for someone else (with their consent), you can fill out a model application form here.
If you want to know whether you or someone you know is applicable to the agency, you can also find this here.
To conclude, I will leave you with the task to encourage anyone you know who may fall in a category of Zebedee’s to simply… apply! It starts with actively supporting those who may need it. After this, encouragement will become a norm of your own which will reflect onto others.
When creative industries realise that diversity and inclusivity is key, improving the fashion industry will no longer be something we hope for. It will be something that just will be.