Hawaii’s Shaholly Ayers on the runway in Milan

A familiar face is appearing on the Italian runway during Milan Fashion Week, continuing through Feb. 27.

Hawaii model Shaholly Ayers, a brand ambassador for Global Disability Inclusion, will join models of all abilities from around the world for an inclusive catwalk in support of the Vertical Foundation, which finances research for spinal cord injury.

Produced by Iulia Barton, an inclusive fashion agency, the fashion show will feature a number of Italian designers, including Angelo Cruciani, Giuseppe Fata, Luigi Borbone, Massimo Crivelli, Antonio Urzi and Diego Salerno.

Ayers, a congenital amputee, was the first model ever to walk a runway without a prosthetic at New York Fashion Week. She wants to open minds and encourage greater acceptance of all individuals, and improve diversity in the fashion industry “to make people think about what they find attractive.”

When she started her career in Honolulu more than a decade ago, agencies did not want to hire her because of her disability. Ayers persevered, networking, building up her portfolio, and moving her way up in the fashion and modeling industry through hard work and determination.

She has been featured in Nordstrom’s national catalog three times and has also appeared in the pages of GQ Italia, GQ Japan, US Weekly, The Sun News Paper, The New York Times, and the Guardian, among other outlets. Last year, she also made appearances on Megyn Kelly Today and Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, as well as being featured in stories on Today.com and Shape.com.

Courtesy Shaholly Ayers