Multifaceted Creative and Activist Jillian Mercado Is Using Her Platform to Reshape the Fashion and Beauty Landscape
Demonstrating how to revolutionize everyday dressing using Tommy Hilfiger’s Adaptive collection.
In an age where diversity, inclusivity and representation is more important than ever for marginalized and underrepresented communities, Tommy Hilfiger is revolutionizing everyday dressing for persons with disabilities with the latest Adaptive collection for Fall/Winter 2021. Since officially launching the Adaptive line in 2017, the iconic fashion brand has been placing significance on the democratization of fashion for all and creating functional, modified apparel that allows people with disabilities to stylishly express themselves.
The simple act of getting dressed can be used as a transformative mode to express one’s identity, distinct point of view and emotions through harnessing fashion and the power of personal style. At the forefront of this movement is Jillian Mercado, a Latinx actress, activist and model with muscular dystrophy who is using her platform to radically change the landscape of the fashion and beauty industry by amplifying her personal experiences and the voices of the disability community.
Growing up in New York City, Jillian, who uses a wheelchair, became enamored with the world of fashion, but recognized the lack of representation and negative portrayal of people with disabilities. “From middle school to high school, my brain couldn’t compute why society really didn’t want me in this world, and also because I didn’t see myself represented anywhere either — I didn’t see it in movies or in magazines,” she says. “I didn’t see anyone who looked like me except in hospital ads or situations around death,” she adds. Never one to limit herself or back down from pursuing her dreams, she dove head first into modeling and later founded Black Disabled Creatives in order to create equal opportunities and a space for people with disabilities to advance in their careers.
Possessing an unstoppable energy to dismantle the dehumanizing portrayals of members of the disability community — which spans across fashion, beauty and entertainment — Jillian has used her voice to champion change, break down antiquated stereotypes and utilize her talents to forge her own path. “I always want to keep this conversation on inclusivity and representation going, and I want to make people not forget that it’s not a trend,” she says on continuing to raise awareness.
Through her perseverance, she has taken on new creative avenues like starring as the character Maribel in The L Word: Generation: Q — a sequel to the iconic TV show, The L Word. “The writers of the show came to me and I had a three hour-long conversation with them about my life and a lot of what my character is experiencing are actual snippets of my personal life,” she says. “[My character’s journey on the show] comes from a personal and authentic place because it comes from someone who’s actually lived the experience rather than someone assuming the experience — which is a problem we’ve had for years where movies and TV shows always make an assumption about what a disabled person looks like,” adding how her role on the show has been a step in the right direction.
With a firm grasp on manifesting her dreams and charging towards building a more inclusive, accepting world for all, Jillian is ushering in a new era of expression, diversity, inclusivity and representation as evidenced by her latest shoot, wearing statement-making styles from Tommy Hilfiger’s Adaptive collection. By imbuing the iconic brand’s classic cool take on American style into each Adaptive garment, Tommy Hilfiger’s innovative offering is laying down the foundation for a more inclusive industry and society for people with disabilities.
In the gallery above, see how Jillian Mercado is revolutionizing the art of dressing using the iconic brand’s adaptive garments like a patchwork puffer jacket in a variety of blue-toned hues that features a magnetic zip closure for easy dressing and coordinating patchwork jeans complete with a velcro closure and magnetic fly designed to appear as a traditional button fly. To shop the featured styles seen here head to Tommy Hilfiger’s site now.
- Michael Kusumadjaja
- Hair Stylist
- Kira Stuger
- T. Cooper
- Bernadet Davood
- Casper Yen
- Danielle Combs
- Look 1: Jewelry: Necklaces: Machete, Icelink. Earrings: Area. Bracelets: Icelink, Pattaraphan. Rings: Mutter, Martine Ali, Bp Jewelry, Jennifer Fisher Jewelry. Socks: Happy Socks. , Look 2: Jewelry: Necklaces: Justine Clenquet, Martine Ali. Earrings: Martine Ali, Annie Costello Brown, Above Average Studio. Bracelets: Icelink, Pattaraphan, Justine Clenquet, Machete. Rings: Mutter, Bp Jewelry, Bond Hardware, Jennifer Fisher Jewelry. , Look 3: Jewelry: Necklace: Pattaraphan. Earrings: Jennifer Fisher. Rings: Mutter, Martine Ali, Bond Hardware, Jennifer Fisher Jewelry. , Look 4: Jewelry: Necklaces: Machete, Missoma. Earrings: Martine Ali, Justine Clenquet. Bracelets: Pattaraphan, Icelink. Shoes: Canvas Michigan Boots: Eytys. Socks: Happy Socks.