Life&Style Writer Kate Langford introduces Kaiden Williams, the Primark model with vitiligo and how the skin condition is becoming more widely accepted
Earlier this year, images of Kaiden Williams, a 13 year old boy with vitiligo, went viral after he featured in a modelling campaign for global clothes retailer, Primark. The international fashion retailer, which was founded in Dublin in 1969, has been commended for this choice as they have set an example to other clothing companies by celebrating diversity and difference through their selection of models.
Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition caused by a lack of the pigment melanin. This deficit of melanin causes pale patches to appear on the skin and hair. Whilst vitiligo is generally a lifelong and incurable condition, many individuals with the affliction embrace their unique look. Kaiden’s mother, Dominique Williams, says ‘I have always said to Kaiden your vitiligo is the best designer label in town and what’s better is it’s exclusive – nobody has the same marks.’ Less than 1% of the global population are affected by this rare skin condition, a condition which should be celebrated widely, not shunned for subverting traditional beauty stereotypes.
Primark is not the only company to feature models with vitiligo in their campaigns. Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo herself, rose to fame after making it to the finals of America’s Next Top Model in 2014. Since then, Harlow has landed a number of modelling campaigns with big-name brands, such as retail clothing company Diesel in 2015 and jewellery manufacturer Swarovskiin 2016. An avid spokesperson for vitiligo, Harlow has made many public appearances to discuss the skin condition. In November 2014, the Canadian born fashion model presented a TED talk to discuss conventions of beauty. Harlow used this opportunity to talk about her personal experiences of bullying and feeling ‘alienated’ due to her rare skin condition.
It is with rising importance that fashion companies make a conscious effort to be more inclusive and diverse in their campaigns. It is necessary for international corporations to follow the lead of Primark and provide portrayals of models of all shapes, sizes and colours, celebrating beauty that doesn’t necessarily conform to stereotypes.