Ending Stigma With Style, New Clothing Label Gets People Talking About Mental Health

Canadian brand Wear Your Label uses tees and tanks to send empowering messages.
(Photo: Wear Your Label/Facebook)
May 17, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Graphic T-shirts have been in for longer than Vivienne Westwood has been cool. Some sport text about peace, some about exercising for the sake of pizza. Some try to get people to believe you saw the Stones at the Roxy in ’78.

One blossoming brand is using the forum to spread awareness about mental illness. With messages like “Self Care Isn’t Selfish” and “Sad but Rad,” Wear Your Label is sloganeering in support of those who are living with mental illness.

“We try and create this tribe culture, where people who buy Wear Your Label are now part of this club where they have hundreds of supporters who all wear the clothes,” cofounder Kyle MacNevin said.

The young designer lives with generalized anxiety disorder and ADHD, and his cofounder, Kayley Reed, is recovering from anorexia.

(Photo: Wear Your Label/Facebook)

Mental illness affects one in four adults, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, but fearing the judgement of others often prevents people from asking for help.

“Whether it was my mom or my twin brother or a really close friend, I just was really afraid of their reaction or what they were going to think,” said MacNevin. “But one day it just hit me…. Whatever they think is a reflection of who they are and not something about me.”

Reed felt the same way. What started out as an idea to encourage conversations about mental health developed into a clothing brand aiming to empower. “We want our clothing to make you feel like a superhero, world champion, and international advocate for change all in one,” MacNevin said. The garments’ tags, written by a psychologist, advise self-care along with washing instructions.

(Photo: Wear Your Label/Facebook)

“The tags are on the bottom of every shirt that we make, so if you’re going through a struggle, you can just flip your tag over and practice the techniques,” he said.

The graphics range from bold statements like “I live with mental illness but it does not define me” to more discreet options, such as the brand’s logo or a small heart emblem. “We understand that not everyone’s on the same page when it comes to talking about their mental health,” MacNevin said. The pair also plans to move into more professional items, like a heart-covered dress shirt, blazers with messages on the inseam, and ties and dress socks with their logo, so customers can wear items that make them feel comfortable inside and out, at home or at work.

(Photo: Wear Your Label/Facebook)

Currently MacNevin and Reed are silk-screening all of their items at their studio in New Brunswick, Canada. In an effort to keep up with demand and grow their company, they’re launching a Kickstarter campaign on May 20 to add to their staff, distributors, and, one day, maybe their own storefront.