Break Free NYFW is a runway show with a cause, leading the discussion on mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders within the fashion industry and beyond. We have invited mental health and addiction recovery activists to not only walk in this show as models but to be featured designers showcasing their collections for the New York elite to immerse themselves with their brands’ core mission of shining a light on this pressing issue.
Now more than ever, we need to continue this national discussion on a local level. In 2022, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) announced a 15% increase in drug overdose deaths, with that figure surpassing 109,000 deaths in May of this year. With more than 932,000 people who have passed since 1999 from a drug overdose and the 19.86% (nearly 50 million) of Americans who suffer from a mental illness, this conversation needs to take the runway.
Leading up to the showcase, there will be a series of virtual panels for the designers and models to take part in discussing topics ranging from substance use disorders within the fashion industry to personal testimonials of each participant's connection to mental health advocacy.
The Break Free NYFW Designer Showcase is being held on Saturday, February 11th, 2023, with all of the proceeds from this showcase going to the Break Free Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to assist those seeking treatment for a substance use disorder through attending a rehabilitation center.
Founded by Alexandra Nyman, the creative director and founder of LadyCat and the Break Free Foundation, "Break Free is my plea to society to open up about their struggles with mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders, and to take them as seriously as they do physical health. The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely shown us that we need to better address our mental health, and we now have tools in order to better address matters of mental health such as being able to now dial 988."
For the upcoming Break Free designer showcase happening during New York Fashion Week, Nyman said, "we are thrilled to be able to officially announce the launch of our third showcase which will include the same level of diversity and inclusion as the first two showcases." Nyman wants to showcase real people wearing fabulous clothing, and she wants to bring awareness to real-life struggles. The dichotomy is eye-opening and exciting.
The Break Free NYFW Designer Showcase serves as an awareness campaign as attendees will listen to the participants discuss their experiences with mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders, as well as the impact they have on the individuals who are living in recovery. Participants will also be able to visit tables from mental health and substance use disorder advocacy non-profits to learn more about how to get involved in advocacy efforts, harm reduction, and policy.