Tommy Hilfiger has just launched his new fall campaign for Tommy Adaptive, his clothing line tailored to people with special needs. The American fashion icon dropped the official video for the fall campaign, which features a familiar face rocking the season’s newest styles—Texas tween Hailey Villarreal, an aspiring actress with cerebral palsy.
Our August 2015 Thrive Mom Next Door, Coleen Villarreal, had just one word to share about the fashions from her daughter’s campaign: Genius. “For [Hailey] to be able to wear skinny jeans, it is freeing and genius.”
Tommy Adaptive garments feature stylishly hidden modifications to allow people of all abilities the opportunity to get dressed with ease. For example, skinny jeans open from knee to ankle to allow a wearer with orthotics, braces or limited mobility to be able to put them on with zero hassle. Other items feature adjustable hems and waistlines, plus Velcro, magnetic and adaptive zipper closures.
The video for the new fall collection—themed “Independence”—was directed by James Rath, who was born legally blind as a result of his ocular albinism, and stars Hailey as well as Mia Armstrong, a six-year-old with Down syndrome, Hunter Brown, an opera singer with autism spectrum disorder, Dmitry Kim, a dancer and amputee, Jacob Santiago, a skateboarder who is visually impaired, Lauren Spencer, who has ALS, as well as actress Miracle Pelayo and surfer Gaving McHugh, who both have cerebral palsy.
The short film ends with a voiceover of Hailey saying, “My ability is stronger than my disability.” That poignant final moment was an unscripted contribution from Hailey, says Coleen. “It’s her signature saying and it’s what she wants all people to know.”
Tommy Adaptive, which launched in 2016, offers the Hilfiger brand’s Americana style to kids and adults of all ages and abilities. Plenty of Hilfiger classics are available through the line, but trendy tykes can also rock this season’s must-haves (think emoji-emblazoned tops and pink puffer jackets) from head-to-toe.
And while the clothes reflect this season’s fads and fashions, adaptive clothing itself is not just another trend. Joining Tommy Hilfiger in the adaptive fashion world is Target’s Cat & Jack collection and a range from online retailer Zappo’s, to name a few.
“It’s not just a trend. It’s the perfect time for our world,” says Coleen of the burgeoning adaptive style movement in mainstream fashion. “We’ve become so accepting of so many different lifestyles in our society, but there’s still a lot of prejudice against disabilities.”
Coleen believes that at its core, this prejudice comes from “a place of not being educated or feeling uncomfortable or unfamiliar.” But increased visibility, thanks to campaigns from lines like Tommy Adaptive, will go a long way toward breaking down lingering prejudices.
Hailey, an aspiring actress, is excited to continue educating and inspiring the world through art. While the Tommy Adaptive video shows her drawing a picture, performing is her true passion. In addition to actively auditioning for modeling and acting roles, Hailey runs acts in local theatre and runs a popular Instagram account—over 6,000 followers and counting—where she shares her journey with cerebral palsy. “Her initiative is to break down walls,” her mother proudly shares. “Watch out world!”