Runway of Dreams Foundation is heading to Los Angeles.
Headquartered in New Jersey, the nonprofit, which works to foster inclusion in the fashion industry for people with disabilities, will unveil its debut L.A. runway show on March 8 at NeueHouse Studios in Hollywood.
Titled “A Fashion Revolution,” the presentation will feature creations by presenting sponsor Kohl’s, as well as Target, Zappos.com, JCPenney, Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, No Limbits and Stride Rite. All retailers and brands will showcase adaptive clothing and footwear designs made for those with disabilities (details include use of magnetic buttons and Velcro, for ease).
“We committed back in 2018 to adding a city every year outside of New York Fashion Week,” said Mindy Scheier, who founded the organization in 2014.
Along with regularly presenting in New York, the show has previously expanded to Las Vegas and Miami to spread its message of inclusion and raise funds. Now the team is looking to L.A.
“We felt there was no better place to go than the West Coast to have a bicoastal approach,” Scheier went on. “And one of the things that we really love saying is that obviously Hollywood is the land of making dreams come true, and we couldn’t think of a better place to have a runway.”
A fashion designer by trade, Scheier is the mother of a child with muscular dystrophy, Oliver, she explained.
“We learned early on that he was really going to struggle with everyday tasks, one of which is the very thing I love more than anything and that’s getting dressed every day,” she said. “For Oliver, it was a daily reminder of what he could not do, like use buttons and zippers. When he was of full age, he wore sweatpants every day, until he was 8 years old. He came home one day and said, ‘Mom, I want to wear jeans like everyone else gets to wear.’”
His words inspired her to start the foundation.
“How upsetting that my 8-year-old had to remind me of the power of clothing and the fashion industry as it relates to your confidence level and self-esteem,” she added. “I couldn’t imagine how the almost 1 billion people on our planet, who have a disability, how they manage clothing challenges.”
Runway of Dreams Foundation’s first show was held in 2016, featuring designs solely by Tommy Hilfiger. Looking forward, Scheier hopes to continue to add brands to the roster. Last year’s shows garnered about 5.2 billion views and impressions, noted Scheier — who also runs Gamut Management, a consulting and talent management company exclusively for people with disabilities. “That’s really making an impact.”
Following the L.A. show, featuring more than 60 models, the foundation will return to New York Fashion Week.
“We intend to grow exponentially, not only in our runway shows — and we’re really hoping to have a global imprint with our shows as well — but also with the direct connection to the pillars that we raise money for,” Scheier said of plans ahead. “There are the scholarship programs for students who are focusing on adaptive as their future, as well as our college club programs, which we are in over 17 universities across the country, as well as our wardrobe grant program, which I personally am very proud of, that grants money to individuals, families, organizations to be able to afford new adaptive clothing. No matter how affordable we get the product, there’s just always going to be a part of population that won’t be able to afford it due to medical necessities. We implemented this program to be able to solve that problem.”