The organisers at Australian Fashion Week have been slammed online for being performative, after they used a model who uses a wheelchair without actually making the runway accessible for him.
The runway faux-pas occurred at the final combined runway at Australian Fashion Week, at the time IMG model Rheed McCracken was wearing popular athleisure label P.E Nation.
Footage of McCracken was posted on TikTok, where you can visibly see him struggling to move around on the runway. Many people on TikTok have expressed disappointment that the event tried to be inclusive, but didn’t bother to take the time to actually *be inclusive*
“Fashion shows that think accessibility doesn’t match the runway aesthetic need to stop. This is a common occurrence,” Stu wrote on TikTok.
“‘We want to look inclusive but we don’t wanna take any measures to be inclusive’ this show director should talk to Sia they would get along,” TikTok user Ro wrote.
What Ro’s referring to is the patronising film Sia made about an autistic girl (played by Maddie Ziegler), titled Music. The film was slammed for failing to cast an autistic person in the role. Again, it was trying to be ‘woke’ in its subject matter, but failed to actually be inclusive.
It’s clear that the fashion industry was trying to showcase diversity, using models of various ethnicities and those from the disabled community. However, the tricky part is treading that fine line between being performative and being a genuine ally.
It’s not uncommon for the fashion industry to get it completely and utterly wrong. It was only last week that Louis Vuitton tried to sell a $700 keffiyeh, a traditional Palestinian garment, not long after pro-Palestine protests took place around the globe.
The poor set design was obviously an oversight on Australian Fashion Week’s behalf. But the point is that accessibility at a massive event like AFW should NEVER be an oversight.