Break Free NYFW is the first and only showcase that solely focuses on raising awareness for mental health and substance use disorders. While the fashion community is consumed with who’s who and who-what-wear, Break Free is here for a different type of rally cry.
It is no secret that the fashion industry is fraught with substance abuse and behavioral health disorders. Break Free boldly returns for their fourth showcase with an outpouring of support from NYC’s City Council, especially from those who serve on the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction. City Council Members Tiffany Caban of District 22, Shahana Hanif of District 39, and Shaun Abreu of District 7, all confirming their attendance at the showcase happening on Monday, September 11th at 230 Fifth in their Empire Ballroom.
While most NYFW shows seemingly forgetting their vows to be more inclusive, at Break Free; it’s not just lip service. Break Free is a showcase inclusive of all bodies, regardless of size, shape, race, gender, or ability. At their FW 2023 showcase, model Janira Obregon whizzed down the runway in her wheelchair, Sober influencer Kim Bellas walked the runway for the first time, and Author and podcaster Tawny Lara was among the brilliant cast of talent.
This season is no different as Emma Norton will be returning to the New York Fashion Week runway. A special-effects makeup artist and TikToker with nearly 10 million followers, Emma will be walking for up-and-coming brand Rehab Studios, founded by Brooklyite and recovery activist, Claire Comai. Emma is known for being candid about her own struggles with mental health, and she is thrilled to step further into her role as an advocate while taking New York Fashion Week by storm.
Other notable attendees include Elizabeth Gascoigne, the founder of Non-Alcoholic Bar Absence of Proof, and Holly Jespersen, from Shatterproof. With performances on the runway by Elle Baez, who opens up for Leah Kate in October, and sober recording artist Boi Angel. Also making their New York Fashion Week premiere are the following designers: OIT Fitness a size-inclusive activewear brand, RaccoonGuts a Toronto-based upcycle design house, and Rehab Studios. With NYFW Veterans Heritage India Fashions, Sonal Couture, JulissaDesigns, and Just Us Kidz.
Break Free pushes towards a larger conversation. However, the recurring question remains with every showcase, “How do we get more fashion creatives to notice that we are screaming mental health advocacy from the rooftops?” Where was the press in a city fraught with unhoused and substance-addicted persons? Where is the support going to come from?
The resounding answer becomes clearer and clearer each and every season; it is through the support of the recovery and fashion community that we can continue to move forward. The Break Free NYFW Designer Showcase will be held on Monday, September 11th at 230 Fifth in the Empire Ballroom. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.com.