It started, like most things, on Facebook. Jillian Mercado, a 26-year-old fashion blogger with a condition called spastic muscular dystrophy, spotted a casting call for models on Diesel’s Facebook page and decided to throw her hat in the ring. Cut to 2014 and Mercado is not only the face of the spring/summer ad campaign, but also the designer brand’s first model in a wheelchair.
Diesel has a history of seeking out the kind of extraordinary beauty that challenges stereotypes within the fashion industry. In August the company took to Tumblr to scout “real-looking” models — including a plus-size female graffiti artist with pink hair, a 65-year-old former fashion editor, and a female former Olympic swimmer who made a career out of posing as a male model.
At a time when clothing retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch and Lululemon appear to believe in the value of only a few body types, Mercado’s arrival in front of the camera is a welcome game changer.