RJ Mitte Is on a Mission to Make the Fashion Industry More Inclusive to Those with Disabilities
The Breaking Bad star opens up about the limitations he had growing up with leg braces
Breaking Bad‘s RJ Mitte knows the difficulties those with disabilities face when it comes to finding stylish clothes that fit well, and he’s invested in making a real change.
Mitte, who has cerebral palsy, grew up wearing leg braces and using crutches, which really limited the types of clothes he could wear.
“Back then if you wanted clothes to fit, you altered it yourself,” Mitte told PEOPLE at the Runway Of Dreams Foundation Fashion Revolution Event Wednesday night. “Luckily, I had family who would alter my pants if need be and my khakis or whatever I was wearing in school.”
But footwear was even trickier. “I had a size seven shoe but because of my braces I had to get size 12.”
Today, Mitte is helping spread the word about all the new advances in adaptive clothing by teaming up with Runway of Dreams to host its annual foundation gala.
Runway of Dreams is a nonprofit organization that develops adaptive-clothing designs and works with mainstream brands to incorporate them into their pieces by doing things such as replacing zippers and buttons with magnetic closures and adjusting arm and pant lengths.
“Back then they didn’t have any adaptive clothing and it was a weird thing finding clothes that fit or making them work for me,” he says about his childhood. “You know how sometimes it doesn’t look people are wearing the clothes but the clothes are wearing them? That’s kind of what it was like for me.”
But now, thanks to Runway of Dreams’ founder, fashion designer Mindy Scheier, there are more choices available for those with disabilities than ever before.
“Like petite- and plus-size departments, adaptive clothing was a category that has never been tapped into before,” she told PEOPLE in 2016. “The notion that if you’re disabled you don’t care about what you look like or how you dress is so wrong. Everybody should have that right.”
Now, brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Zappos, Target, Nike and many more have embraced Runway of Dreams’ mission and are developing adaptable-clothing lines in their companies.
And Mitte is thrilled that an organization like Runway of Dreams is changing the industry in such an impactful way. “There’s a massive untapped market when it comes to clothing apparel for those with disabilities and I think it’s now finally catching up with bigger companies and those that have the resources to do something.”
During its annual gala, Mitte helped award this year’s honorees, which included Jason Redman of Combat Wounded Coalition, for being a source of inspiration for the community and Zappos Adaptive and Target’s Jack & Cat clothing line for their vision and adaptive strategies.
The night also included a fashion show with kids and adults modeling adaptive pieces by Nike, Tommy Hilfiger and Target.
Mitte says none of them needed any of his modeling advice (he would know — he made his runway debut at a Vivienne Westwood show!), but says his only tip would be to remember, “It’s all about the attitude.”
And everyone on the runway certainly brought the attitude!