Nordstrom Catalog Acknowledges That People With Disabilities Like Fashion Too

An image from the newest Nordstrom catalog.

An image from the newest Nordstrom catalog.

Much in the way that not everyone is a size 0 or built like a Greek god, not everyone who wants to dress in nice clothes has the use of all of their limbs. Then there are all the people with disabilities that aren’t immediately evident, but which nonetheless have a huge impact on their lives. These folks represent billions of dollars in buying power, but often go overlooked in fashion advertising, though not in the pages of Nordstrom catalogs.

2014-3Back in 1997, the high-end department store’s catalog began including models in wheelchairs, amputees, people with Down syndrome, and others, right alongside the models one might normally expect to see sporting $450 boots and carrying $418 handbags.

Additionally, the models’ disabilities are not mentioned in the catalog copy, and the clothing has not been modified.

“We serve diverse customers and it’s an opportunity for them to see themselves when they’re looking through the book or online,” says a rep for the company. “We don’t promote it or go out and talk about it. We just think they look great.”

“Identifying companies that utilize models or actresses with disabilities has been like finding a needle in a haystack,” Meg O’Connell, a partner at the consulting firm Global Disability Inclusion, tells the AP.

2014-2In addition to the Nordstrom catalogs, she points to recent ads from Swiffer, Duracell, H&M, and Diesel that featured people with disabilities.

There is a mountain of money to be made by marketing to disabled Americans, and O’Connell says that “companies that understand this will have an advantage.”

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