Kamali: "A great presentation through professional attire can help teachers and other public employees command the respect they deserve."
Weingarten: "If this project makes a teacher feel empowered or helps inspire a student to become a teacher, it will be a success."
DETROIT—American Federation of Teachers members participated in a unique runway event Friday evening, showcasing fashion designer Norma Kamali's KamaliKulture line of women's clothing, which will be available to AFT members at a discount. In these challenging economic times, when educators and other public employees are being asked to do more with less, Kamali and the AFT are partnering to help them look and feel good at an affordable cost.
"A great presentation through professional attire can help teachers and other public employees command the respect they deserve," Kamali said, adding that this was the first time she has offered a particular group a discount. "I feel so strongly about the challenging and important work teachers do— especially considering their modest salaries—and the need for everyone to identify them as experts."
Members and leaders of the AFT modeled the KamaliKulture outfits at the event taking place during the AFT convention. Detroit-area hair and makeup salons donated their time and services for the show: Red the Salon, Todd's Room and Maalouf Salon, all of Birmingham, Mich.; Bashar Inc. HB Salon of Troy Mich.; and Jennifer James from Detroit.
AFT members will be able to purchase the KamaliKulture www.kamalikulture.com clothing, which is available in sizes 0-18 and costs less than $100 per item, at a 25 percent discount.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said educators and other public employees have been subjected to demonization, disrespect and deep budget cuts instead of receiving the tools, time and trust they need to help their students succeed.
"If this project makes a teacher feel empowered or helps inspire a student to become a teacher, it will be a success. While clothing isn't everything, in these tough economic times, when educators and other public employees are asked constantly to do more with less, Norma Kamali's work in helping them look and feel good at an affordable price, is a sign of respect and a boost to their confidence," Weingarten said.
"Educators, healthcare workers and other public employees take on some of society's most important, most challenging work to make a difference in people's lives, and this will help them have access to affordable high-quality clothes," she said.
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