Malcolm Jenkins works to lift stigma via fashion show models

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and his business partner, Jay Amin, showcased their latest collection of designer men's wear from their store, Damari Savile, with a fashion show at the upscale bar-restaurant Maison 208 in downtown Philadelphia over the weekend.

Several Eagles teammates, recently retired wide receiver standout Anquan Boldin and the city's mayor, Jim Kenney, were in attendance. At the conclusion of the show, Jenkins revealed to the crowd that three of the four runway models had criminal records.

"A lot of us happen to judge a book by its cover," Jenkins said. "And one of the things that we wanted to bring to light tonight was that we have this stigma of men and women when they have criminal records. We put something in our minds of what that looks like … so what we wanted to do was change that stigma."

The private event was to announce a partnership with MenzFit, a nonprofit organization that helps provide career counseling, job placement and work attire to low-income men, who in many cases are actively seeking employment after being incarcerated. To help in the group's efforts, Damari Savile will hold a monthly clothing drive in which people can exchange their lightly worn suits for a discount at the store.

Jenkins has become deeply involved in social justice reform with a focus on recidivism. He has made multiple trips to Capitol Hill to speak on the matter and is currently advocating for a bill in Pennsylvania called the Clean Slate Act, which would seal certain low-level, nonviolent criminal records from public view after 10 years to make it easier for some coming out of prison to find employment.

Jenkins highlighted each model one by one following the show, from a gentleman named Armando who was held at Rikers Island at the age of 16 because he couldn't make bail to a 60-year-old named Bernard who recently had a lengthy sentence overturned while representing himself. Both currently have jobs thanks in part to the help of MenzFit.

"Thank you to each of you for being a part of this special night. We commend you for the work and your fight to be productive citizens," Jenkins said, "and we are here to support you and celebrate you."

Jenkins, who has participated in the Colin Kaepernick-inspired protests during the national anthem since last season, has developed into one of the leaders of the players' off-field movement. He helps coordinate the efforts of a growing network of NFL players looking to get involved in social activism, helps run a foundation that serves underprivileged youth and has met local law enforcement and participated in a ride-along with Philadelphia police.

"As an athlete, you owe us 100 percent on the field, and hopefully a championship one day, but that's all you really owe us," Kenney said. "To step out and do what you're doing, to be as active in the community as you are, be a great role model for our children and for all of us -- even the adults you're a great role model for -- it's just an honor to know you, to be here and be contributing to this event."