Supporting Parents and Carers of children with a Visual Impairment
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Unlocking the Fashion Industry for Visually Impaired Young People

Young people with John Lewis personal shopper who is holding a jacket.

LOOK UK recently held a fashion event at John Lewis Birmingham. Visually impaired young people were invited to come together to talk about fashion and to get fashion tips from blind beauty YouTuber Lucy Edwards and John Lewis Stylists.

“Fashion is very visual, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do it.”

The day began with a talk from blind YouTuber Lucy Edwards, who lost her sight five years ago. Lucy spoke candidly about her long personal journey to coming to terms with her sight loss. “It’s been a massive journey for me. When I started my YouTube channel I was very low. There wasn’t a lot online that proved to me that I could do it.” But as Lucy’s channel began to grow, she found a supportive community that she could talk about fashion with and learn from.

Lucy Edwards in conversation with Sam and Kevin of LOOK, being interviewed for podcast.

“Fashion is very visual, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do it. We can be able, we can be strong, we can be independent women and men.”

Lucy then took questions from the audience. In response to a question about who to believe when people comment on what you are wearing, Lucy advised only trusting the opinion of two or three close family and friends, as getting too many opinions can be confusing.  Lucy was also asked about the best ways to apply make-up. She advised learning how to apply foundation first, and using a sponge run under water, rather than a brush.

Event attendees being addressed by John Lewis staff and stylists

A session with the stylists

John Lewis stylists then talked to the group about the clothes sold at John Lewis; jeans from Oasis and French connection to name a few. They also spoke about fashion trends such as the ‘slogan t’ or T Shirts with slogans on and demonstrated a variety of skin care products.

12-year-old Malika said: “This has been really helpful for me, learning about all the trends, learning about the make-up techniques. I’m 12 years old and this is the time when I really want to be involved in all this. This day has given me tips and tricks and boosted my confidence.”

LOOK staff addressing event attendees

Competition time

Things then got a little bit interactive. John Lewis ran a quiz offering a snazzy pair of premium Ray-ban sung glasses as a prize for anyone who could guess how many sun glasses brands were in the store. The first guess of 99 brands was way off the mark, but it was only two guesses later, when Fiona correctly guessed 17!

Personal shopper

For the final session everyone was divided into two groups. One group stayed with the John Lewis personal stylists and Lucy Edwards, to get more personalised advice while the other group went downstairs to check out the John Lewis personal shopper service. This is where you can book an appointment and a John Lewis partner will take you into a room and help you choose clothes that you might like to buy. The benefit being that you can get one to one advice from your personal shopper. Many of the young people who attended were interested in this service, as a lot of the fashion trends are shared on visual magazines, and products aren’t labelled in an accessible format, leaving many visually impaired people feeling isolated from the fashion industry.  So, what can the industry do to become more accessible? Lucy Edwards thinks labelling more products in braille would be a great start and having an online advice service tailored for visually impaired people could bridge the gap for those who may not know routes to the high street.

Event attendees and LOOK staff with John Lewis personal shopper, examining a piece of clothing

In the meantime, Lucy hopes to work with LOOK to develop the fashion event further to help more visually impaired young people get more out of fashion.

“We can work together to really make it something that visually impaired people come to, maybe on the regular to learn tips and tricks. Having this community and making it stronger, is only going to make everyone happier.”

 

Lucy Edwards speaking to event attendees, standing before a clothing rack and the LOOK banner

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