Moving Towards a More Accessible and Empowered Future

By Julia Mantooth

Most of us move throughout our days in an automated fashion, never stepping back to reflect on the simplicity of walking up a set of stairs or hopping over the gap at a tube station. However, for many, these tasks are nearly impossible. Improving the mobility and accessibility of the systems and institutions of the world around us has become an increasingly top-of-mind issue. Making our communities a place where everyone can thrive is possible and can bring us together in spectacular ways. Read more in Moving Towards a More Accessible and Empowered Future

For many of us, the simple act of stepping onto a bus is a mindless one. The ease of such an action is something that we can take for granted. Taking that step, we might not think twice about those around us who may not experience that same ease. The concepts of accessibility and mobility can manifest in a variety of different ways. It could be establishing priority seats on public transport or incorporating closed captioning on an audio clip. Whatever manifestation it takes, its importance remains the same.

Three brands that are currently championing related initiatives are RIMOWA, Smirnoff, and e.l.f. Cosmetics. These brands are currently championing the cause of improving accessibility in their respective sectors. For RIMOWA, its about innovating designs that work for everyone. For Smirnoff, its about making the nightlife industry a place where all are welcome. For e.l.f., its about celebrating the individuality of women around the globe.

The RIMOWA Design Challenge is a competition designed for students to showcase their creative talents. This year, the focus for the 2024 challenge is mobility and its global impact. With a selection of a well-rounded and multi-talented jury, this challenge is sure to impress.

Students from the leading design universities throughout Germany will be participating in this challenge and submitting their original designs. These students will be tasked with the challenge of creating brand new designs that would suit a wide range of people.

Smirnoff’s new initiative, ‘We Do Us!’, puts a focus on breaking down barriers to accessibility in nightlife. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the world of nightlife is likely not its accessibility or ease of mobility. The goal of this new movement by the vodka brand is to change this narrative.

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 29: Fatima Timbo aka Fats Timbo and Layton Williams celebrate the Smirnoff ‘We Do Us’ initiative in partnership with Tilting The Lens and Sink The Pink on November 29, 2023 in London, England. Photo by Dave Benett

After partnering with disability-led organization Tilting the Lens, Smirnoff hosted an inclusive and accessible event on November 29th. The event featured a series of live performances and was open and accessible to all. Organisers of this event put in place a wide range of measures to ensure its accessibility. These measures included step-free access, BLS interpreters, and an accessible bar and toilets. This was the first of a series of free “We Do Us Live” events featuring accessibility of nightlife.

To put the spotlight on a series of creative women throughout the UK, e.l.f. Cosmetics has unveiled murals in London, Birmingham, and Manchester. These murals have been placed along public streets and will be accessible and free to all. The goal of this initiative is to empower the creativity and individuality of women.

The paintings, made by illustrator Laura Greenan feature the young rap artist, Meduulla. Each mural contains a QR code that, when scanned, makes the painting come to life through augmented reality and plays Meduulla’s song inspired by the e.l.f. brand.

The campaign also has a contest that can be entered by anyone who posts with the AR filter to their Instagram stories. The winner becomes an “e.l.f.luencer” for a day which includes getting ready with a makeup artist, travel and hotels in London, and a spot in the VIP box at the O2 for Olivia Rodrigo’s concert.

The empowerment and platforming of the women around us can also improve the accessibility to the stories that we are told. Discovering narratives from individuals who are part of underrepresented groups can expand our worldview greatly.

Image Michaela Coel, TFA 2023

Michaela Coel, for example, is a profound visionary who platorms stories that have been underrepresented in popular media for many years. As a screenwriter, actress, an filmmaker, Coel is a multifaceted talent who has shone the spotlight upon black and queer stories. This year, she will be honoured at The Fashion Awards 2023 with the Pandora Leader of Change Award.

With initiatives like these happening everyday, its more than possible to make our modern world more celebratory and positive for all. From luggage to nightlife to cosmetics, there are countless organisations putting in the work to achieve this lofty goal.

To learn more about The RIMOWA Design Prize, please visit here

To learn more about Smirnoff’s We Do Us live, please visit here

To learn more about the e.l.f. Cosmetics murals, please visit here

To learn more about The Fashion Awards 2023, please visit here

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