The fashion industry is notorious for churning out clothing, influencer marketing and micro trends at a rapid pace, yet it has been painfully slow to improve its representation and inclusion of those with disabilities. According to the Department for Work and Pensions’Family Resources Survey, 1 in 4 people in the UK have a disability. Despite being the largest marginalised group across the globe, they’re frequently overlooked – even when fashion brands declare they “champion” diversity and inclusivity in their workplaces or as part of their advertising campaigns. Additionally, projects exploring age and disability are often viewed through a sympathetic lens rather than commendation.
Growing up, filmmaker and creative director Dagmar Bennettoften wondered whether her Uncle Keith would have become the fashion creative she knew he was destined to be if society did not stigmatise disabilities. As a self-proclaimed style enthusiast, Keith has spent the past five decades building an eclectic wardrobe while exploring local stores and thrift shops in his small mining town in South Wales.
Bennett aims to celebrate her uncle in a rural community where this personal expression is less frequently seen. “The psychology of appearance, social perceptions of appearance and appearance-based stereotyping have an impact on all of our lives,” she explains. “Therefore I wanted to create this body of work to show that no matter what ‘box’ the world may put you in, you can still be the shining star you aspire to be.”
Inviting us to celebrate Keith’s remarkable creativity, Bennett collaborated with Italian photographer Stefy Pocket to capture her uncle wearing pieces from his fashion archive against the background of his hometown. The result is a series of intimate portraits that challenge societal depictions of disabled and elderly individuals, instead spotlighting and championing their uniqueness.
The inner workings of this editorial will be showcased as part of the ‘Y Sîn’ boxset available on BBC iPlayer and S4C. It will be broadcast on the S4C channel early in 2024.
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