Fashion label "H&M" advertises with young model with Down's syndrome
The Swedish fashion chain "H&M" deliberately uses children with Down's syndrome in its advertisements. In Germany, a current ad for a knitted jumper on Facebook and the website shows a little boy with trisomy 21.
"We want the reality and the world around us to be reflected in our marketing as well," a spokesperson at the company's German headquarters in Hamburg told the German evangelical news agency Idea. Therefore, the company also focuses on inclusion and diversity in selecting models "to ensure the broadest possible representation".
Founded in 1947, H&M operates 4,300 fashion stores in 64 countries.
H&M is not the only clothing brand to use children with trisomy 21 in its advertising. Last autumn, the British newspaper Metro reported that 7-year-old Francesca Lockwood had become the latest face of Primark – a chain of 341 clothing shops, in Ireland, where the head office is located, the United Kingdom, but also several countries in continental Europe and the United States.
Francesca Lockwood was only five years old when she began her career as a child model. Previously, she worked for companies like Google, Mothercare, and the Early Learning Centre.
Her mum Melissa Lockwood, 43, then said she was "thrilled that brands are championing diversity and inclusivity". "Certain companies are leading the way with being more diverse in their choice of models", she explained. "It is so important for people in the Down's syndrome community to see people like themselves achieving things in the mainstream."
Francesca's mother said she knew that there was still a long way to go. "The industry has come a long way in terms of diversity, but there's still an awful long way to go too. I'd love for it to be the norm for all types of people to see themselves represented in ad campaigns and stores."
21-year-old Mélanie Ségard from France proved earlier that someone with Down's syndrome can make a dream come true. On 14 March 2017, she presented the weather forecast on the national television channel France 2 after the eight o'clock news. The aim was to raise public awareness of this chromosomal anomaly, the main genetic cause of mental deficiency.
"Mélanie is our ambassador," Luc Gateau, president of the French umbrella association for mentally disabled people and their families, told radio Europe1. "We have proved that someone with a disability can make his dream come true. Society needs that," said Gateau.
People with Down's syndrome were the subject of much debate in France in the year preceding Melanie's performance. In November 2016, the French Supreme Court had ruled that a film aimed at changing the negative image of the syndrome could no longer be broadcast in television commercial breaks. In the contested film, "Dear future mom", people with Down say what they can do, such as cuddle, talk, read, travel and help their fathers fix tyres.
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