Based in Dublin, Sinéad Burke is the founder and CEO of Tilting the Lens, an accessibility consultancy that is rooted in education, advocacy and design. She has parlayed her lifelong love of fashion into meaningful inroads across the industry regarding accessibility, diversity and visibility.
As the world moves ahead, what is your take on fashion’s role in contributing to positive change?
The fashion system nurtures culture and is a source of employment for thousands of people. For those two reasons alone, the industry must be intentional in its implementation of systemic change. Fashion provides an opportunity to craft visibility for and with so many who have felt ‘othered’ or excluded, but visibility alone cannot be the vehicle for change. Fashion must be an equitable employer, ensuring that different voices, backgrounds and experiences are empowered to craft, design and build a better, more accessible system.
What is one trend or article of clothing that will define the coming year?
The pandemic has forced a reset and a collective re-think. It has made us explicitly aware of our vulnerabilities and our shared experiences of exclusion. I hope, that as we return to physical spaces, our conversations on sustainability, equity and accessibility are amplified; that resources are accrued; and policies, practices and protocols are designed with those with lived experience.
What is something you’d love to see in fashion’s future — even if it remains a fantasy?
I would love for fashion brands and companies to choose to house their offices and retail stores in accessible buildings. Often, architecturally significant buildings are prioritised, but these spaces are often without elevators and do not have step-free entrances. They do not just limit who can be a customer or an employee, but they are an explicit symbol of who we consider, and who we value.