In recent years, the fashion industry has made impressive strides in its efforts to promote diversity on the runways during Fashion Week.
At DKNY's Fall '14 show, “real people” plucked from the streets of New York were hired to model Donna Karan's urban label. In another example, Rick Owens nixed models altogether, instead opting to cast members of a step-dance team in his show.
And last year, Danielle Sheypuk made her New York Fashion Week debut as the first-ever wheelchair-bound model on the runway.
This Fashion Week will mark another impressive step for the industry, as actress Jamie Brewer is slated to become the first woman with Down syndrome to walk the runway as part of designer Carrie Hammer's Role Models Not Runway Models initiative.
The revolutionary initiative, launched last year, was also what put Sheypuk on the runway.
Shortly after last year's show, Katie Driscoll, cofounder of nonprofit Changing The Face Of Beauty, contacted Hammer to thank her for including a disabled woman in her inaugural show.
Thank you for being the change that is long overdue. I could literally cry every time I read an article talking about your decision to include a model who just happens to have a disability. YOU are what this world needed!
When Hammer learned that Driscoll's daughter, Grace, had down syndrome, she asked her to suggest a role model for the girl.
Driscoll suggested Brewer, which Hammer ran with.
The "American Horror Story" actress told "Today" of her upcoming runway debut,
It's a true inspiration being a role model for any young women to [encourage them] in being who they are and showing who they are.
As for what she'll be wearing? Hammer says Brewer's custom dress will be based on the popular FX show.
'American Horror Story' is dark, scary, bewitching, so we had to go with black, and Jamie has a beautiful body with a teeny waist and curves, and we went with an A-line.
Brewer, for her part, is “honored to be in [the dress].”
Many women have many sides to their personality, this dress fits… mine.
Carrie Hammer may not be the best-known in the fashion industry, but with her incredible initiatives and game-changing shows, it won't be long before she's a household name.
Her work is set to change the fashion industry forever -- and we couldn't be more excited to see what she has in store next.