TPHS alumna Carrie Hammer (’03), founder of a eponymous businesswear line, was featured in the 2014 New York Fashion Week with her show, “Role Models Not Runway Models.” The show cast models Hammer considers “role models” to match her clientele and has become the theme of her clothing line.
“‘Role Models Not Runway Models’ was originally supposed to just be a one-show deal and now it has become the title of all of our shows, the thread of all of my work and really a worldwide social movement,” Hammer said.
Hammer moved to New York in 2009 to work in advertising sales, but was “frustrated by the [lack of] clothing options available to a professional woman.” After attending the Parsons Paris New School of Design, Hammer returned to New York in 2012 to launch her own clothing line, which caters to the everyday professional woman.
In February 2014, Hammer’s line was featured in New York Fashion Week through her connection with Emerging Designers, a New York-based fashion network.
Hammer objects to the model casting process. In an interview with Think Progress, Hammer said the casting process usually features “12 to 15-year-old girls doing homework backstage [who] have to be so thin … [that they] are [subject to] high standards.”
“I didn’t want to cast underage models for my first show because all of my clients are huge CEOs, executives, philanthropists — [people who are] role models,” Hammer said. “I decided to cast my show with my clients.”
After Hammer’s first show, she was introduced to actress Jamie Brewer of “American Horror Story,” who has Down syndrome. Brewer was the first model with Down syndrome to walk in Fashion Week.
Because of her success at Fashion Week, Hammer has been named to Forbes “30 under 30” and featured in ABC World News, Good Morning America, Cosmopolitan, Fox News and MSNBC.
“We were the first-ever fashion show to showcase a model on the runway who happened to be in a wheelchair or who happened to have an amputation,” Hammer said. “Six months after our first show, Nordstrom included a model in a wheelchair in their Anniversary Catalogue and JC Penny unveiled a window with a mannequin in a wheelchair. One year after our show, there was another show during Fashion Week that had an amputee and a model in a wheelchair. We are making it OK to have models with disabilities on the runway.”
Hammer hopes that her clothing line “shifts the fashion paradigm back to being more customer-centric.”
“I hope it shows young women that these are the types of women you should be looking up to,” Hammer said. “Clothing is supposed to serve and empower our customers, but [modern] fashion imagery doesn’t represent or serve our customers.”
According to Hammer, while she was at TPHS, she focused on grades and fashion-related extracurricular activities.
Retired TPHS English teacher Gail Zides, was effusive about Hammer.
“She was one of the most unbelievably enthusiastic and creative students I had.”
Hammer hopes that through her line and “Role Models and Runway Models,” people will eventually “see past the wheelchair and into the person.”