Debenhams puts disabled model in the picture


A leading department store says it has become the first high street retailer to use pictures of a disabled model in a fashion advertising campaign.

Debenhams is using shots of wheelchair-user Shannon Murray online and in window displays in its Glasgow, Guildford, Oxford Street (London) and Nottingham branches, and plans to roll them out across all its stores.

The idea of using a disabled model came from two disabled presenters who took part in Channel 4’s fashion makeover show How to Look Good Naked.

Journalist Nikki Fox and actress and writer Natasha Wood launched a campaign for disabled people to be represented on the high street, as part of the show’s three-part special on disabled women earlier this year.

Murray has joined three non-disabled models in images to promote the Principles by Ben de Lisi fashion range in Debenhams.

Michael Sharp, deputy chief executive of Debenhams, said: “We cater for women of all shapes and sizes, young and old, non-disabled and disabled, so we wanted our windows to reflect this choice.

“When Nikki and Natasha approached us with the idea, we didn’t have to think twice.

“We are proud to be the first high street retailer to deliver this. We only wished we had done it sooner.”

Fox praised the store for using Murray in its campaign, and said: “It’s a really big deal. If seeing Shannon helps another disabled person, then we’ve done well.”

Murray said she was “proud to be part of such a big move towards positive representation of disability in high street fashion”.

And Sophie Morgan, a disabled model and campaigner, said the Debenhams campaign was “fantastic” and an “exciting development”.

She said she hoped the retailer would continue to use disabled models, and she believed the campaign would have a positive impact on both disabled and non-disabled people.

She said: “Definitely it helps the disabled community with style tips and inspiration and it is quite encouraging to know that even if you are in a wheelchair you can still be beautiful and a model.

“And it’s great for the non-disabled community to know that there are beautiful [disabled]women out there who can model.”

Debenhams said it was committed to using disabled models in other photographs, and was planning a second photo shoot this summer, with images again being used instore and online.

2 March 2010