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Special Olympics Shines at New York Fashion Week 2021 with #BeBrave Collection

Celebrity Photographer Nigel Barker hosts Special Olympics New York and Parsons School of Design students at New York Fashion Week photoshoot.
Group photo of the photographer, athletes, and designers.
(From left) Parsons student designer Jessica Tan, athlete model Alfred Ha, athlete model Larissa Walker, Photographer Nigel Barker, athlete model Daniel Fletcher, Parsons student designer Weijing Xiao and athlete model Janissa Lloyd.

A unique ensemble gathered in New York City on 9 September 2021 to offer something fresh and inspirational at the New York Fashion Week scene. Famed fashion photographer and Special Olympics Champion Ambassador Nigel Barker hosted a photoshoot with four Special Olympics New York athletes and two Parsons School of Design students to introduce their collaborative #BeBrave design collection. The Wall Group provided hair styling and make-up that was courtesy of IMG Endeavor who also streamed from behind the scenes with Nigel on IG Live @NYFW.

New York Fashion Week Photoshoot

Daniel showing off red white and blue athletic ware. Text reads: “I am respected as a person and an athlete.” - Daniel Fletcher
When powerlifting, Daniel Fletcher goes by the name “Mr. USA.”

The #BeBrave collection featured uniforms designed by Parsons design students in collaboration with Special Olympics New York athletes. Weijing Xiao, who worked with Daniel on the uniform he modeled, was overcome with emotion when she met him, wearing their creation, for the first time in-person.

Larissa showing off a warm up jacket. Text reads: "You better take me seriously on the field" - Larissa Walker
Larissa Walker is both a Special Olympics athlete and coach.

Student designer Jessica Tan was equally excited about seeing her design on Larissa Walker. Jessica says, through the design class with Special Olympics, she has learned to always keep the needs of the people wearing the clothes in mind.

Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman has been impressed with the classroom collaboration experience since it started a year ago. “Seeing a vision come alive that was created by Parsons design students working side by side with our athletes - it simply doesn’t get any better than that. This project is inclusion at its best and shows the authenticity of these mighty athletes.”

Alred Ha in a red had and white be brave hoodie. Text reads: "I am most proud of never giving up." - Alfred Ha
Alfred Ha currently trains and competes in volleyball and softball.

Alfred Ha, along with Daniel and Larissa, modeled uniforms as well as streetwear. Nigel enjoyed photographing the athletes in both sets of clothes. “I hope that when people see these photographs, they see strong, powerful, confident, amazing athletes and that they see clothing that they'd like to wear themselves.”

Janissa Lloyd in a white be brave hoodie. Text reads: "I am a champion" - Janissa Lloyd
Janissa Lloyd says that every competition, win or lose, is special.

In addition to being a serious and determined athlete, Janissa Lloyd took to posing for the camera like a pro! When asked about the concept of athletic wear designed with input from athletes, the self-described fashionista said, “It feels like finally someone understands the importance of inclusion.”

The event captured the attention of major media outlets. Check back frequently for an updated list.

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