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Home / LA Canvas / Fashion / Sinéad Burke: ‘My goal was to change the entire fashion system’

Sinéad Burke: ‘My goal was to change the entire fashion system’

Sinéad Burke: ‘My goal was to change the entire fashion system’
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Sinéad Burke almost didn’t talk about fashion and disability at the behest of the Obamas in September 2016, having mistaken their invitation to the White House Design For All showcase for a phishing scam. A polite email nudging the then 26-year-old Irish teacher and disability advocate for her RSVP did the trick, leaving Burke with two dilemmas: “First, what would I say, and second, what would I wear?”

Burke – who had a fashion industry-focused blog called Minnie Mélange – is a little person, the term she favours when referencing her achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, that means she has shorter-than-average limbs. Desirable frocks and footwear are hard to come by, she says, when you’re 3ft 5in and “a size 12 in the children’s shoe department.”

As a clothes-obsessed teenager, shopping with her four younger siblings – all of whom are “average height” – was tantalising and demoralising by turns. “I understood that one of the functions of fashion is to symbolise maturity, yet it wasn’t something I could participate in,” she says. Rails were beyond reach; clothes needed tailoring. The curvature of Burke’s spine means “the back of a skirt or a dress needs to be […]

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