Inspirational Harrogate man launches new fashion label for deaf people
An inspirational Harrogate man has launched a new fashion label designed to empower deaf people and break down stigma.
Luke Christian, 26, said he never had a deaf role model growing up, and often found that there was a general lack of awareness and understanding around his condition - encountering comments such as, 'Well you don't look deaf,' and, 'You're not that deaf because you can speak to me and have good speech.'
Determined to make a difference, Luke has created DEAF IDENTITY - a fashion brand modelled only by deaf people, that sets out to provide strong and positive role models, with clothes ranges including t-shirts, sweaters and hoodies, which can all be personalised with British Sign Language.
The idea is to build up a strong sense of community and pride, and bridge any gaps in awareness that can still exist in our society.
Luke said: "With so much talk around diversity at the moment, there's still very little when it comes to deaf awareness, so I wanted to break that down. All the models I choose and work with are all deaf, or children of deaf adults, and for me this is incredibly important and something I will never compromise on. I want to give deaf people a platform and a voice.
"I would like people to feel empowered, strong and confident when they wear my designs, and to embrace them. I hope that my brand will help inspire those who are deaf themselves to feel more secure, and show that it is time we got recognised. There is no right or wrong way of being deaf - deafness is a spectrum, and it’s all about how we identity with being deaf that matters."
"I hope that this will break down stigmas surrounding deafness, and show how creative and inspiring deaf people are - another reason why I only use deaf people in our campaigns."
Since the DEAF IDENTITY website and online shop went live in September, interest has been high in the personalised clothing for men, women and children. For Luke, who has always loved fashion ever since he was child, it is a dream come true.
He said: "Being deaf myself, and coming from a deaf family, growing up I didn't have anybody in the public eye to look up to who was deaf. And so I wanted to merge the fashion world and the deaf world together - I wanted to allow customers and consumers to personalise their goods in British Sign Language, allowing them to display their creations proudly across their chest.
"I just wanted to bring something that is fresh, exciting, modern and relevant, and shake up the way that people think of the deaf community. I took redundancy from my previous job in retail earlier this year, and decided to continue with my passion of raising deaf awareness by mixing it with my love for fashion - that’s how DEAF IDENTITY began."
Luke also blogs about lifestyle and male grooming, and has worked with many top brands over the years, including Jo Malone, Gillette, Tom Ford and Huawei.
Items from the new DEAF IDENTITY fashion label will be on sale at the Harrogate Indie Christmas Fair at Arlo & Jacob, West Park, on November 29, 4pm to 10pm.