Diversity in fashion campaigns, on TV, and in the pages of magazines makes sure that no one feels weird and alone – and every time a brand takes action to improve representation, that’s worth praise. So applaud River Island, who’ve just hired their first model with Down’s Syndrome. Joseph Hale is an 11-year-old from Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire. He’s featured in River Island’s autumn/winter campaign for kids’ clothing. He also happens to have Down’s Syndrome. Joseph didn’t even need to audition for the role, and landed the job as his first ever go at modelling.
His mum, Karen, is delighted. ‘Joseph enjoys it and just proves that he can live a life like anyone else,’ she says. ‘For River Island to select him for their campaign is just wonderful and we can only thank them for that. It is brilliant that despite a lot of people seeing Down’s Syndrome with a disability, here River Island, and advertising, are accepting him. ‘It is his first campaign – but what a campaign to be his first.
‘Some models go their entire careers without ever being selected for River Island.’ Joseph appears in photo and video campaigns for River Island, popping up in a video introducing the RI Kids Squad as the ‘traditionalist’.
He was chosen for the gig by scouts, who saw his portfolio on the website of his agent, Zebedee Management. Scouts approached the agents to ask if Joseph would be keen – thankfully, he was. ‘I think it will definitely change the view of people seen with disabilities,’ says mum, Karen. ‘For Joseph to be included is a real positive thing and we are so proud of him.
‘It shows there is much more to his personality and hopefully this will be seen by other parents and children who realise his disability does not define him. ‘There is a lot more to see of Joseph than at face value and [by being in the campaign] he is perceived with the same thoughts, dreams and ambitions as someone without Down’s Syndrome. ‘I hope this changed the perception the world has on people with Down’s Syndrome.
READ MORE: metro.co.uk