Jude Hass, a Plano teen and a long-time model, makes history this week as the first man with Down syndrome to walk the runway in New York Fashion Week (NYFW). He makes his Fashion Week debut on Saturday, Sept. 10.
"I'm so proud of myself," Hass says. "It's fun, and I'm not nervous because I'm so excited."
Hass, 15, has been modeling for more than a decade.
NYFW is a twice-yearly event and one of the largest fashion gatherings in the United States. For models, walking in Fashion Week is a dream. The fashion show featuring Hass will "[show] the world models with disabilities deserve a place in fashion, beauty, media, marketing and advertising," according to a statement.
For Hass, he hopes it'll show others that people living with disabilities have similar abilities to everyone else, he says.
Hass' debut at NYFW is the result of a partnership between Global Disability Inclusion, a consulting firm specializing in disability inclusion in the workforce, and FTL Moda, a fashion show production firm. For the past five years, these organizations have joined forces to make NYFW a forum for discussing disability inclusion. Each year, the coalition puts on a fashion show featuring models with various disabilities.
For Hass, the show is a stepping stone on his path to success.
"I knew one day I would be famous," the Plano teen said in a statement.
Hass will be joined on the runway by veteran model Shaholly Ayers, an amputee who has walked in all five of the coalition's shows, as well as fellow first-timer Chelsea Werner, a gold medal gymnast in the Special Olympics.
The show won't be streamed live, but videos of FTL Moda's shows can be found here.