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Adapt or Die - What Innovation can the Australian Fashion Sector look to in the next 10-15 years?

The natural resources fashion companies have relied on for generations are significantly depleting, with the potential to be used up 2030, following rising costs will have damaging effects on profit margins. If companies want to avoid causing serious damage to their bottom lines and the well-being of the planet, something has to change.

When people are asked to sum up the fashion industry in a few words, ‘new’ is almost always one of them. The constant changing of seasons ensures that looks are always evolving -- even when they’re paying homage to a bygone era -- and the materials used to create those looks are always in high demand. Unfortunately, that demand comes at a cost.

The positive news, the fashion industry will no longer need to continue being unsustainable in order to remain profitable, following the announcement for Australia’s first-ever Circular Fashion Conference in March 2018.

Lead organiser spearheading the revolution, Camille Reed said, “Our primary aim is to first and foremost educate and start important conversations with the biggest and most influential parties in the Australian retail fashion industry. We’ve brought together experts who are excited to share their knowledge of how the apparel sector is tackling sustainability overseas.”

Australia is in a very fortunate position to determine what sustainable and responsible measures mean in our culture. Leading renowned sustainability practitioners, Vivify Textiles, Australia Post, Good On You, Ethical Fields, Kusaga Athletic, Textile Recyclers Australia best practice for growth, innovation and responsible measures to build a more sustainable fashion market in Australia. Camille emphasises the point that “We have the solutions to sustain business longevity because our experts understand the business of fashion.”

Given the growing constraints on resources that fashion organisations have at their disposal, this is truly a conference that no retailer can afford to miss. “A company’s approach to sustainability management is indicative of how it deals with stakeholders in general, including consumers, regulators and shareholders,” said Reed. “It can serve as a proxy of management quality.”

That approach starts by coming together with other like-minded sustainability-driven enterprises to begin transforming the way business is done in retail circles. “The Australian Fashion Industry has the opportunity and market resources to become innovative leaders to overcome world market change,” said Reed. Let’s take the first step together in March at the Australian Circular Fashion Conference.

The Australian Circular Fashion Conference event will be country’s first ever event focussed on fashion sustainability and supporting economically viable growth, for the future prosperity of Australia’s fashion retail businesses. Participation and attendance for the event is strictly focussed to businesses and organisations, not the general public. For more information and tickets visit https://www.australiancircularfashion.com.au

Moncler to unveil monthly 'Genius' series at Milan Fashion Week

Italian outerwear maker Moncler will unveil his strategy for shaking up the world fashion calendar at the Milan Fashion Week opening Tuesday with his high-powered monthly "Genius" series.

The brainchild of Moncler, CEO and creative director Remo Ruffini aims to disrupt the traditional twice-yearly rhythm by rolling out collections once a month from a team of eight headlined by Valentino's Pierpaolo Piccioli. All eight, who include Simone Rocha, Craig Green and Kei Ninomiya, will present previews of their collections in Milan, before rolling them out one per month starting in the summer. For five days after each show, the collections will be sold exclusively by a selected partner online retailer before going on sale at Moncler's network of stores and wholesalers, according to Vogue magazine. Milan Fashion Week, a glamourous pause in the midst of campaigning ahead of Italy's March 4 general elections, will bring together media, buyers and fashionistas led by Armani, Fendi, Versace, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana.

The 64-show extravaganza runs until February 26. Prada promises a star turn on Thursday evening with a show at its new venue in a former distillery converted by architect Rem Koolhaas. Only a select few will attend, as the venue is not yet open to the public. Among designers returning to Milan after an absence will be American Tommy Hilfiger, who will be closing the week with the final stage of his "Tommynow" series after Los Angeles, New York and London. The revolution that has seen fashion houses present men's and women's collections together is gaining steam, with Salvatore Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli joining the trend already embraced by Gucci, Missoni, Jil Sander and Antonio Marras.

Italy's fashion sector booming

Talent scouts will be on the lookout as up-and-comers Marco de Vincenzo, Arthur Arbesser and Erika Cavallini unveil their collections. Italy's big fashion guns are centre stage in the week's exhibition covering the three decades spanning 1971 to 2001 that saw "Made in Italy" conquer the world. The expo, which runs through May 6, explores how Italian fashion was inspired by art, culture and politics over the years. Last year confirmed the robust health of Italy's fashion sector, which saw growth of 2.5 percent.

Turnover for textiles, clothing, leather goods and shoes totalled 64.8 billion euros ($80.3 billion). Exports were also up 4.3 percent driven by spikes in demand from Asia, with China up 13.5 percent and South Korea up 12.8 percent. Russian demand also surged 12.8 percent. (AFP)

Photo: Moncler Milan and Gamme Rouge SS '18

New guard steal the show at London Fashion Week

From the dreamy pastels of Roksanda, to the glam-leather of David Koma and sensual lace of Christopher Kane, the new guard made their mark on London Fashion Week on Monday. The designers may not share the same nationality, age or style but they all have one thing in common: all three are alumni of prestigious London fashion school Central Saint Martins.

Roksanda, abstract elegance

Since arriving on the scene in 2005, Serbian Roksanda Ilincic has enjoyed uninterrupted success in the British capital. She now has a presence in 40 countries, a children's line called "Blossom", and regularly dresses famous women from Kate Middleton and Melania Trump to Lady Gaga. Her show this week was inspired by graphic artist Caroline Denervaud, drawing from her minimalist forms to create a collection full of elegance and fluidity.

New guard steal the show at London Fashion Week

The show, on the penultimate day of Fashion Week, was marked by long and luminous dresses, tightly gathered by wide waistbands, decorated with abstract motifs. There were also striped ponchos, wide, mid-calf length cashmere coats with padded textures and scarves covering the chest. The palette offered vibrancy and pastels from yellow to flamboyant pink; electric blue to gold and tan. "I'm a designer that always cares about women and how to dress and how to protect them," she explained backstage.

Koma, sexy geometry

Georgian-born David Koma was just 15 years old when he presented his first collection, before moving to London in 2003 and making a name as a specialist in the little evening dress He then became creative director at Mugler from 2013 to 2017. His show in a central London church was a magnet for the stars, with models Lara Stone and Jourdan Dunn in the front row. Faithful to his roots, the designer presented a glamorous and sexy wardrobe for the twilight hours.

The dresses were short and skimpy; tight at the waist and flared on the hips; made from leather, silk and cotton and adorned with feathers and sequins. Drawing on the work of ethnologist and photographer Edward Curtis, who spent nearly 30 years with the Indian nations of North America, Koma contrasted the sharp cuts of the black, red and indigo dominated garments with black-and-white feather-like fringes.

New guard steal the show at London Fashion Week

Kane, daring in silk and lace

Considered one of the driving forces behind the new British wave, young Scottish designer Christopher Kane created his own brand in 2006, which became known for its audacious, postmodernist collections. The designer chose art gallery Tate Britain to present his daring collection. Kane's models strode the catwalk wearing red mini-dresses made of exquisite lace, exposing their silhouettes, or sleeveless tops adorned with prints showing women in states of ecstasy.

Kane combined lace with silk, decorated with floral prints to create barely-there dresses matched with black boots. He occasionally veered towards the more sober and enigmatic, and other items seemed inspired by the Milky Way with long, straight black robes smattered with white dots, like stars in the night sky. (AFP)

Photos: courtesy of Burberry | Roksanda & Christopher Kane AW18 / Catwalkpictures

Saudi Arabia is set to host in March its first ever Arab Fashion Week, the Arab Fashion Council announced Monday, overturning decades of draconian policies on arts and entertainment.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne, has been leading a drive to reform the country's dependence on oil, including expanding the private sector and empowering women. The Dubai-based Arab Fashion Council said on its website that fashion week would be held in Riyadh from March 26 to March 31, with a second edition already scheduled for October. Arab Fashion Week will take place at Riyadh's eco-friendly Apex Centre, a white honeycomb-like venue designed by the late celebrated Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.

In December, the Arab Fashion Council announced the opening of a regional office in Riyadh and named Saudi Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al-Saud as its honorary president. "The first Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh will be more than a world-class event, it is a catalyst through which we believe the fashion sector will lead other economic sectors such as tourism, hospitality, travel, and trade," Princess Noura said in a statement on the council's website. Listed as an international fashion week alongside Paris and Milan, the twice-yearly Arab Fashion Week offers exclusively see-now-buy-now collections and pre-collections.

The line-up for the Riyadh event has not been revealed yet and it remains unclear whether it will limited to modest designs in accordance with the strict dress code observed in Saudi Arabia. The Gulf kingdom, which has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, requires them to wear, by law, a loose-fitting abaya robe to shroud their bodies in public. Earlier this month, a senior Saudi cleric said Saudi women should not be "forced to wear abayas". The comment was made by Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlak, a member of the Council of Scholars -- the kingdom's highest religious body.

The government has not said whether it will change the law. But Prince Mohammed has introduced over the past months a series of reforms in favour of women. In January, Saudi women were allowed for the first time ever to enter a football stadium to watch a game and the kingdom is also opening several sectors of the workplace to women. Saudi Arabia has also announced an end to a longstanding ban on women driving, which is to take effect in June. In the past, Arab Fashion Week have been hosted so far exclusively by Gulf fashion capital Dubai and have included runway darlings Marchesa and Tony Ward. Dubai will continue to host its own parallel Arab Fashion Week, with the sixth edition slotted for May 9 to May 12. (AFP)

Uniqlo to launch capsule collection by Tomas Maier

Uniqlo has announced it is collaborating with Tomas Maier on a capsule resort collection to be in stores early summer.

Maier, who is the Creative Director of Kering-owned luxury fashion house Bottega Veneta, will produce a range that proposes sophisticated casual style and Uniqlo's first resort wear collection for both men and women.

The concept for the collection is liberation, an idea which resonates with the ethos of Fast Retailing's LifeWear codes. Whilst Maier is sometimes regarded as a minimalist for his work at Bottega Veneta, his collection for Uniqlo is meant to free the wearer from the constraints felt from our complicated lives, offering a pared-down and considered product that is well made and relevant.

Yukihiro Katsuta, head of Uniqlo's Research and Development stated: “LifeWear embodies our belief that individuality comes not from clothes, but the people wearing them. That’s why we devote our energies to create clothes that people will enjoy and value for a long time."

German-born Tomas Maier studied at Paris' Chamble Sundials de la Couture, and then gained experience at a number of well-established maisons such as Sonia Rykiel, Levion and Hermès.

Photo credit: Tomas Maier website

Roland Mouret presents Fashion Week ode to free, sensual women

French designer Roland Mouret launched his latest collection in London on Sunday, aligning with the #MeToo movement in a parade celebrating femininity, independence and sensuality.

In the subterranean concrete lobby of the National Theatre, the London-based designer hosted buyers, journalists, bloggers, fashionistas and other Fashion Week VIPs to highlight his 2018 autumn-winter collection. Models paraded between the ranks of guests following a labyrinthine route set to retro music. Velvet corduroy dresses were worn with transparent tops; soft ties appeared nonchalantly tied around the neck; and lace socks were paired with sandals. Mouret was eager to play with contrasts to explore concepts of femininity -- and his abiding mantra "...we all dress to undress". In red and black, in pale pink or midnight blue, his models subtly revealed garters and low-cut necklines. "Roland Mouret proves that there is practicality in femininity, and femininity is a woman's greatest power," read the collection's accompanying notes.

Roland Mouret presents Fashion Week ode to free, sensual women

Mouret told AFP he deliberately chose fabrics reminiscent of the 70s -- "still the highlight of women's liberation" -- for his latest designs as he incorporated the current climate into the collection.

Bow silhouette

Spanish fashion house Delpozo, a defector from New York Fashion Week, also highlighted its latest offerings on Sunday with a slow and romantic show in the cosy setting of London's Royal Institute of British Architects. The location was an hommage of sorts to creative director Josep Font's past life as an architect. For his 2018 autumn-winter collection, the Catalan drew inspiration from French cubist artist Ines Longevial. Font found the works "radiate a harmonious femininity in shape and colour" and sought to incorporate their "simple lines and curvy silhouettes with luminous hues" into his designs.

Pink provides the basis for the collection, while ivory, camel, canary yellow, chalk blue and navy blue feature too. Shorts are cut wide, skirts long, and the coats hang down to mid-thigh. Shirts are studded with polka dots, ankle boots are sequined and dresses feature floral patterns. Meanwhile the designer has styled two types of belts: an "iconic bow silhouette" and another more "organic and floral" offering inspired by lily pads. "Artisanship of leather at its most delicate expression," proclaims the collection's literature. (AFP)

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Photos: Roland Mouret / Catwalkpictures

Will the social media bubble burst at New York Fashion Week?

Clamoring into the venues at New York Fashion Week, plenty of different industry types can be found including editors, buyers, stylists and social media influencers. Once simply known as bloggers, Pixlee has defined social media influencers as follows: A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.

In this case, the industry in question would obviously be fashion. Back in the days of New York Fashion Week at the tents at Bryant Park, editors could be heard asking “What’s a blogger?” Those were the days when seating at Fashion Week was much more limited and strictly industry personnel. Front rows were dominated by Condé Nast and Hearst editors, and a few A-list celebrities sprinkled in.

How much longer will social media culture prevail at New York Fashion Week?

Looking at the seats of Fashion Week today, however, the types of attendees have changed. While there is still a considerable amount of traditional industry personnel, most of the seats are dominated by social media influencers. These Instagram-sensation youths boast social media followings of in the four, five, and six figures. Some, like Aimee Song of Song of Style, boast followings well into the millions.

Social media influencers are expected to help bring in a certain amount of audience and also lead to sales for clothes. Like all things business, this year it has been questioned if the social media bubble will burst soon.

After the ten day festivities that were New York Fashion Week: Men’s and New York Fashion Week combined together for a ten-day affair, the answer is clearly not anytime soon.

In a recent report released by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, it was revealed that Tom Ford generates an average of 800 percent more online impact during Fashion Week than any other time of the year. This is in part due to social media influencers, such as Gigi Hadid, who walked his show. While traditional media still remains the most important source of coverage for runway shows, social media has still helped brand’s Media Impact Value.

Influencers made up 36.1 percent of New York Fashion Week’s Media Impact Value, more than any other category including traditional media and consumers. However, of all the other major Fashion Week’s, including London, Milan and Paris, New York is the only one where influencers have the highest Media Impact Value.

It can be argued that New York has sold out to the social media crowd, but if they are the ones helping sell the clothes, then you do what you have to do to see your return on investment. The cost of runway shows can be extraordinary, sometimes costing up to 1 million dollars between venues, production and paying models. If social media influencers can help recoup that investment sooner rather than later, of course they will continue to fill the seats of Fashion Week.

While this generation of Instagram influencers has grown to rule at New York Fashion Week, there’s the question of what’s next once they’ve served their time. Vincent Lane, editor-in-chief of the Garnette Report, says “[influencer culture] will change definitely, but a new wave will come.”

He’s not the only one who shares this sentiment. At the end of December, Fashionista posted an article titled “17 Fashion Influencers to Watch in 2018”, naming the new crop of “it’ kids, which included Gigi and Bella Hadid’s brother Anwar Hadid, Estee Lauder’s beauty director Violette and Proenza Schouler and Céline model Selena Forrest. The next generation is already receiving their crowns and being ushered onto their thrones.

Even notable fashion designers realize that these Instagram kids have staying power, as long as they take cues from the previous generation. “They can last a long time if they educate themselves on who comes before them,” says fashion designer Stevie Boi. “If they don’t, they will be ended by the greats.”

Stevie Boi, who boasts an Instagram following of over 71,000, also considers social media important to his business like most designers nowadays. When asked how essential he thinks social media is to being a fashion designer nowadays, he said, “It’s important [because] interacting with your supporters is important and will keep you grounded.” Before clothes even hit the stores, designers can tell what will do well based upon social media reaction.

Lane and Stevie Boi’s sentiments about a next generation coming along were also echoed by the influencers themselves. Joseph Knoop, who boasts a Pinterest following of over 3,400,000, says, “Influencers are here to stay, but like anything else the faces and names will change.” He added that, “If you think about it, influencers have been around for ages. Celebrities, athletes and rock stars have been the influencers of the past. We are the new rock stars, we are the new celebrities. People relate to us on a deeper level.”

Influencers are considered even better marketing faces than celebrities because they are seen as real people. According to Mediakix, advantages of social media marketing include the ability to target specific online audiences and influencers have a different kind of relationship with their followers. While influencer marketing is still a young industry that is still being optimized, it is clear that the social media era isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The bubble has more expanding to do before it will burst, so we can expect more and more influencers at New York Fashion Week.

Photo: Pexels

Rainbows and retro pieces: Bailey bows out at Burberry INTERACTIVE

From classic check baseball caps to shell suits, Christopher Bailey raided the Burberry archive for his final collection at London Fashion Week on Saturday, while looking to the future with the rainbow flag.

Bailey bowed out after more than 17 years at the British fashion house with a collection drawing on street style and highlighting gay rights, lit only by spotlights in a dark, club-like venue. The once ubiquitous caps in Burberry's signature beige, black and red check pattern -- so popular in the 1990s that the brand began to suffer -- returned to the catwalk alongside 80's style shell suits made of silk. There were the classic trenches which Bailey has repeatedly reinvented as he turned Burberry into a luxury brand, as well as colourful knits layered under sheer t-shirt dresses, and maxi skirts worn with oversized hoodies and trainers. "I wanted it to be a reflection of Burberry's past, our present but also my great excitement to see what the future holds for Burberry," the 46-year-old said backstage.

Click through the slideshow to take a look at the last collection of the designer.

Bailey will formally step down on March 31 but will work with Burberry on the transition until the end of this year. His replacement has yet to be announced, but rumours put Phoebe Philo, who recently left Celine, in pole position. "The next person that has the privilege of coming into my shoes is incredibly lucky and I know they are going to do wonderful things and they will flourish," he said. A flash of rainbow colours ran through the collection, a reference to the internationally recognised gay pride flag which Bailey incorporated into the signature check or in bold designs. There was a rainbow cashmere turtleneck sweater, rainbow puffa jackets, and the show culminated with a gorgeous rainbow faux fur cape worn by model Cara Delevingne.

Pioneer

Bailey became the first openly gay head of a company on London's benchmark FTSE 100 index when in 2014 he was named chief executive, a job he combined for a time with his long-running position as creative director. He dedicated the final collection to LGBT groups around the world, saying before the show: "There has never been a more important time to say that in our diversity lies our strength and our creativity." Earlier, British designer Jonathan Anderson showed a playful collection to mark ten years of his J.W. Anderson label, that for the first time brought together men and women's clothes.

Fabric donut shapes grew out of sleeves at the wrist and arms, while the men wore key rings of toy donuts on their belts, marking what he described as naive optimism. He returned to a paisley pattern from his first collection for a blouse with layered soft ruffs at the neckline, while elsewhere there were loose dresses with dropped waists and fabric ties by the knees. "We've been going for 10 years, now we have to go forward in an optimistic way, to make it exciting again," said Anderson, who is also artistic director of luxury leather brand Loewe. (AFP)

Rainbows and retro pieces: Bailey bows out at Burberry Photos: Burberry AW18 /Catwalkpictures & Burberry

The Boston Globe published a bombshell expose on Friday accusing more than two dozen professionals in the fashion industry, among them legendary photographer Patrick Demarchelier, of sexual misconduct.

The paper's Spotlight team, which in 2002 unveiled widespread sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Boston, said more than 50 models had detailed alleged misconduct they had experienced, from touching to assault. Collectively, they made credible claims against at least 25 photographers, agents, stylists, casting directors and other industry professionals, the Globe reported.

They include Demarchelier, fellow photographer Greg Kadel, who has worked for Victoria's Secret and Vogue, and stylist Karl Templer, who has worked with Coach, Zara, and Tommy Hilfiger.

The Globe said all of those accused had denied the allegations against them. Nevertheless, glossy magazine empire Conde Nast, whose company includes Vogue, had said it has stopped working for now with Demarchelier and Kadel. The Globe said one of Demarchelier's former assistants complained about relentless sexual demands, to which she eventually submitted, fearing that she would otherwise endanger her position.

Six other women accused the now 74-year-old Frenchman of unwanted advances, including thrusting a model's hands onto her genitals and grabbing another model's breasts, the Globe said. Demarchelier did not immediately respond to an AFP request to comment. He was quoted by the Globe as saying the complaints against him were untrue. "People lie and they tell stories," he said.

The sexual harassment watershed engulfing the United States has already rocked the fashion industry, with allegations of misconduct seeing photographers Terry Richardson, Mario Testino and Bruce Weber barred from collaborating with Conde Nast.

The magazine empire has issued a new "Code of Conduct" to include bans on alcohol on sets and the use of models under the age of 18 without a chaperone present. Nudity or "sexually suggestive" poses are to be agreed on beforehand. The Globe said some models wanted to expose serial predators while others wanted new legal protections and radical reform in an industry they say left them feeling exploited. (AFP)

Fashion photographer Jerris Madison thought his titanium rod leg spelled the end of his glamor days when doctors amputated his leg four years ago in a battle with bone cancer.

But in 2016 designers Alleles, a small Canadian company, spotted a photo of him wearing his prosthetic on Instagram and sent him their latest product for him to try out: one of their dazzling, colorful array of prosthetic covers. "When I opened the box, I felt like it was Christmas," 45-year-old, Los Angeles-based Madison told AFP. "Having that leg cover really boosted my self-esteem," he said. Walking around in just a bare titanium rod used to make him feel self-conscious. "People would stare and know I was an amputee. Now, they look at me as a walking piece of art."

Madison isn't the only person with a disability who has seen their daily life improve thanks to a growing market of products designed to make things easier, but also look chic and stylish at the same time. From now until September an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt design museum in New York is showcasing some of these new products, from the low- to the high-tech. "In the last few years there has been a proliferation of new design, very functional and esthetically desirable products for people with all sort of disabilities," says Cara McCarty, curator of the exhibition.

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Besides the tattooed-style covers made by Alleles, which start at $375, the exhibition shows Nike "FlyEase" sneakers, first made for a student with cerebral palsy, with a wraparound zipper and adjustable strap to make getting them on and off easier. There is also a walking stick, made in the color of your choice, which can be propped up easily against a wall without falling over, on sale for around $100.

For everyone

A hearing aid looks like a giant earring. A bracelet connected to a smart-phone GPS app which guides the blind and tracks obstacles above the knee. Another item is a jacket, included in a new clothing line for disabled children carried by Target, that comes apart at both sides making for easy wear. The key to success for lots of these products, says Caroline Baumann, director of the museum, is that they are so practical. When Target designers conceived of the jacket "they were thinking about the child on the autism spectrum that might have difficulty putting on their jacket, but what they are finding is that people of all abilities are buying that jacket," she told AFP. "I would love that jacket for my three-year-old because its a fight every morning to put him in his parka," Baumann laughed.

Keith Kirkland, a former designer at Calvin Klein who co-conceived the vibrating GPS "Wayband" bracelet, agrees. If the bracelet was tested on the blind, the idea in launching it for sale later this year, is that "anyone" can pick it up "to figure out which way to go." More cross-board appeal also means products can be more affordable. "A lot of times the reason the product is so expensive is because you have to amortize that cost over a much smaller market," Kirkland said.

Breaking down stigma

Designers are also eying an aging population, which bring their own disabilities, as another source for market expansion. "One out of three people from the age of 62 has some kind of visual impairment and that aging population is supposed to double by 2060," says Kirkland. Matt Kroeker, whose small Canadian firm Top & Derby created the non-falling walking stick, says the idea is to create products that aren't simply practical but which people enjoy using. "It's just like glasses who were utilitarian until the late '40s and became more fashionable after that," said the entrepreneur, who has also designed a range of compression socks in more exciting colors than the usual black and brown.

But if these products are sexy, few are widely available in retail outlets. Most are sold solely online. "The biggest barrier right now is people want to buy these products but the companies responsible for distributing or selling to the end user are very apprehensive," Kroeker explained. "There is a mentality that people don't really care about well-designed, thoughtfully-designed home healthcare products and we are trying to change that," he said.

Madison also hopes to help change attitudes by giving his prosthetic leg cover its own Instagram account. "It is about breaking down that stigma, so you are no longer hiding a hearing aid or hiding a prosthetic leg. You are saying 'I am more able with this tool that has been designed so well, and I am not embarrassed about it'," says Baumann. (AFP)