Diesel’s New Campaign Featuring Disabled Fashion Blogger Smashes Stereotypes

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Remember last year how Diesel announced the appointment of their very first Creative Director, Lady Gaga’s former stylist, Nicola Formichetti? And remember how we all thought it was so rad that for his first appointment, he decided to cast models for the new campaign from Tumblr instead of a model agencies’ books? Well if you didn’t know anything about the very rad Diesel Reboot campaign, now you do!

Here’s some more exciting news from the denim label, they have just released new images of their Spring/Summer collection, and shown pics of some of the 23 bloggers and new faces Formichetti cast, and one of them is going to change the face of the fashion industry forever.

Her name is Jillian Mercado, she is a fashion blogger from NYC, a former fashion student and she is also in a wheelchair. Now just that fact alone would be enough for all major brands to overlook this spunky young chick. After all, disabled people are the most underrepresented group in the entertainment industry, and the largest minority in the world. It is about TIME a major label took the time to acknowledge diversity in all forms! Thank you Diesel 🙂

Jillian can regularly be found at the front row of New York Fashion Week, but it was a bit of a journey to get there. Born to Dominican parents who were both involved in the fashion industry (her mother was a dressmaker, father was a shoesalesman) she grew up loving fashion and style. At the age of 12 she was misdiagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, which she later found out was actually spastic muscular dystrophy.

She has two younger sisters, but was never treated any different from them, which Jillian says helped her grow up with the mindset that she could do anything.

After studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she interned for fashion magazines such as Allure, and started her own blog Manufactured1987 which she still runs today. Although being in a wheelchair has presented logistical problems at some venues, and garnered differing attitudes among the hoity toity of the fashion world, it doesn’t phase Jillian one bit.

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“I work equally as hard as everyone else does in this industry, and my chair doesn’t give me permission to slack off,” she told The Daily Beast. “My passion is equal to yours—I just come with a chair that moves.”

“When I was in the sixth grade, a physical therapist told me that no matter what I would do, I would always have to work twice as hard as everyone else because of being disabled—which has made me stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

But now with her appointment as one of Diesel’s new breed of tastemakers and fashion influencers, Jillian is relishing the opportunity to be a point of difference in a normally autonomous, and narrowly-defined world.

“I do appreciate people who come up to me and tell me how refreshing I am, and that they want to see more of me around. When someone appreciates you for who you are, it’s absolutely the best feeling anybody can ever have. I love to feed into positive energy, and when that’s around you, you just feel like you can take over the world.”

Her positive outlook on life and go-getter attitude was something that caught Nicola Formichetti’s eye in the Reboot casting process, and boy did he make the right decision to include her.

“It’s never easy for her to move from point A to point B, but she’s totally fearless and has really been an inspiration to me,” Formichetti said to Womens Wear Daily in an interview. “You don’t have to be a conventional model type to represent a brand.”

Our thoughts exactly!

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Jillian knew from the beginning of her career how narrow-minded the fashion world can be, but was determined that she can be part of it in a new unique way.

“It means so much to me because it’s the fact that someone who is different is representing Diesel,” she told the Guardian. “[It shows] anyone can rock the clothes and look beautiful. For me it represents way more than just a campaign. A lot of people will see it and will have a change of mind of how they see people who have a disability.”

“If you want to do something, it takes dedication but it doesn’t matter what other people say. Be you and go for it – I try to keep that in mind. I hope something continues to happen, like this [campaign],” says Mercado. “People should have an open mind. If I’m helping to make it move forward, that’s awesome.”

How ridiculously awesome it is to see some real diversity in a brand that is representing millennials! We always get so encouraged to see campaigns and hear of stories like Jillian’s. It’s further proof that there should be nothing in your life that can stop you from being unashamedly you. Don’t change just to try and fit in somewhere else, because then the world misses out on the true authentic version of you, and there’s only one of you!

Jillian’s story inspires all of us to be brave and be confident. “Anyone can wear Diesel – You don’t have to be a supermodel, you don’t have to be a millionaire, you can wear it no matter who you are and what you look like.”

Check out Jillian on The Today Show talking about this incredible opportunity:

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