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Breaking the stigma of Down syndrome through fashion

3 min read

Better Society
Breaking the stigma of Down syndrome through fashion
Source: Facebook/DownToXjabelle

This young fashion designer from Guatemala broke the mould by becoming the first individual with Down syndrome to exhibit fashion designs at London Fashion Week.

Designer creates authentic Central American fashion for individuals with Down syndrome.

Isabella Springmuhl, the young fashion designer from Guatemala behind the brand Down to Xjabelle, broke the mould by becoming the first individual with Down syndrome to exhibit fashion designs at London Fashion Week 2016. She has since completed one collection of garments called “Peace and Love”, which made its debut on London Fashion Week’s circuit. Down to Xjabelle is a brand inspired by people with Down Syndrome and by the women in Isabella’s family, and they craft unique designs on Guatemalan textiles. Everything is handmade with love.

Down to Xjabelle Inspired by love+inclusion. Unique designs on Guatemalan textiles “Using the Mayan textiles in my designs I honor all these women that for ages and ages have been weaving Guatemala’s history in clothing and textiles. I love my life… I wish that every garment I so lovingly work on warms the dreams of other youngsters who have different abilities … we can do it! I believe that we all together can knit a better world.” — Isabella Springmuhl, fashion designer. Source: Facebook/BrightVibes

Springmuhl’s university application denied as Down syndrome was considered a liability by them

Speaking to Ruptly TV about her experience as a young designer participating in such a prestigious event, Springmuhl said, “When I think about it, I must say I’m happy even though I’m the only one with Down syndrome. I love to be here and I like people to get to know my heart, who I really am: a girl with Down syndrome who has no fear and is able to reach her goal."

Springmuhl has had a mind for fashion from an early age. Wanting to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, Springmuhl applied to study fashion design at a tertiary level shortly after graduating from high school in Guatemala. Her application was denied by the university as Down syndrome was considered a liability by them, but Springmuhl continued to sketch, knit, sew and style garments under her own steam and published her work on Instagram.

Springmuhl’s talent was spotted by Cecilia Santamarina de Orive, one of the organisers of the International Showcase segment of London Fashion Week, who made contact with Springmuhl and offered her a chance to showcase her craft.

According to Springmuhl’s website, “One of my dreams was to be able to design beautiful and fashionable clothing for youngsters and adults with Down syndrome. Because of the physical characteristics we have, sometimes it is quite difficult to find nice clothing that fits us well.”

Apart from designing clothes tailored for individuals who have Down syndrome, Springmuhl is a culturally-aware couturier in her own right. Her garments are infused with the vibrant style of Mayan artworks and she works with fabrics local to Guatemala.

“These textiles are unique,” she writes, “They are woven by Mayan indigenous women who live in the rural areas of my beautiful Guatemala. Each community in Guatemala has different patterns and colours that identify them. [By] using the Mayan textiles in my designs, I honour all these women that for ages and ages have been weaving Guatemala’s history in clothing and textiles.”

Websitedowntoxjabelle.com Facebook@DowntoXjabelle Instagram@down2xjabelle

Source: Emile Uys, for Design Indaba

Down to Xjabelle is a brand inspired by people with Down Syndrome and by the women in Isabella’s family, and they craft unique designs on Guatemalan textiles.
Everything is handmade with love Down to Xjabelle is a brand inspired by people with Down Syndrome and by the women in Isabella’s family, and they craft unique designs on Guatemalan textiles. Source: Facebook/DownToXjabelle
“One of my dreams was to be able to design beautiful and fashionable clothing for youngsters and adults with Down syndrome. Because of the physical characteristics we have, sometimes it is quite difficult to find nice clothing that fits us well.” — Isabella Springmuhl
Down to Xjabelle: creating authentic Central American fashion for individuals with Down syndrome “One of my dreams was to be able to design beautiful and fashionable clothing for youngsters and adults with Down syndrome. Because of the physical characteristics we have, sometimes it is quite difficult to find nice clothing that fits us well.” — Isabella Springmuhl Source: Facebook/DownToXjabelle
With the support of her loving family, Isabella had been educating herself in fashion design, sewing and knitting, and posting her work on Instagram.
A mother’s love… With the support of her loving family, Isabella had been educating herself in fashion design, sewing and knitting, and posting her work on Instagram. Source: Facebook/DownToXjabelle
Apart from designing clothes tailored for individuals who have Down syndrome, Springmuhl is a culturally-aware couturier in her own right. Her garments are infused with the vibrant style of Mayan artworks and she works with fabrics local to Guatemala.
Springmuhl is a culturally-aware couturier in her own right Apart from designing clothes tailored for individuals who have Down syndrome, Springmuhl is a culturally-aware couturier in her own right. Her garments are infused with the vibrant style of Mayan artworks and she works with fabrics local to Guatemala. Source: Facebook/DownToXjabelle
Make an Impact

Making A World more Inclusive: Fashion for Disability

Who doesn’t want to look good? We all do, right? Wearing a trendy or fashionable outfit makes you feel good. Something as simple as how you dress could affect your self-confidence. Think of how the world could be more inclusive if brands took it upon them to create Fashion for Disability! Guess what, there are brands and designers who have set the ball rolling in this very direction.