People with special needs strut their stuff at inclusive fashion show

Timothy Lee (in green floral top), who has Down syndrome, walks the runway at the Fashion for a Social Cause show.
Timothy Lee (in green floral top), who has Down syndrome, walks the runway at the Fashion for a Social Cause show.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Natasha Steinbeck, 23, who has development delay, with other models at the Singapore Fashion Runway at Scape.
Natasha Steinbeck, 23, who has development delay, with other models at the Singapore Fashion Runway at Scape.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
MP Baey Yam Keng, the guest-of-honour  at the Singapore Fashion Runway, also walked the runway.
MP Baey Yam Keng, the guest-of-honour at the Singapore Fashion Runway, also walked the runway.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Aniq Hazim, a student at Pathlight School, loves to draw and perform for others as a member of the school choir.

On Saturday (Aug 12), the 11-year-old, who has autism, strutted down the runway with about 50 other models at a fashion show at *Scape.

Fashion For a Social Cause showcased clothes and accessories by 18 local designers in front of an audience of 500 and is the third edition of an inclusive fashion show organised by social initiative Singapore Fashion Runway (SFR) and *Scape.

"Taking part in such a large-scale event has boosted his confidence and self-esteem," said Aniq's mother, 35-year-old Siti Zuraily Zainal, who runs an online business selling health and beauty products. "In the school choir, the audience was mostly just people we know, but now he knows he is capable of doing so much more."

Ms Eileen Yap, 42, founder of local fashion label Noel Caleb, said that she started SFR in 2015 to promote inclusion in the industry, and also extend its social impact.

"Fashion is always seen as (an industry where you need to be) very perfect...but in the real world, humans are not perfect. We drew inspiration from people who face different challenges but yet are able to live their lives with a smile," she added.

The models included 30 people who are chronically ill or who have disabilities or special needs. Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng, the show's guest of honour, also took part in the show, where selected items from the show went on sale.

Funds raised from the event will go towards Fashion For a Social Cause, a programme by SFR to empower marginalised people through fashion and design.

The fashion show also aims to be a talent discovery and mentoring platform.

Organisers had discovered that breast cancer survivor Lily Chan, 54, who took part in a fashion show last year, has an aptitude for sewing. She led a team of about 20 seamstresses, also fellow cancer survivors, in assembling the outfits on show on Saturday. "When I saw a piece of clothing that I had sewn on display for the first time, I felt so proud," said Ms Chan.

SFR will organise another fashion show in November. A Give.asia campaign has also been set up, where close to $2,000 has been raised for programmes under Fashion For a Social Cause.