For a long time, fashion has focussed only on the outside of our bodies. However, the reality (for most of us) is there is just as much going on inside as there is on the outside.
To put it bluntly, young peoples’ mental health is the worst it’s ever been. Currently, it is estimated that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in the UK, with Black British and LGBTQ+ groups being the most at risk. Especially worrying is the drastic 30% rise in the reported amount of suicidal thoughts in the past 20 years, while rates of self-harm have more than doubled in the same timeframe.
The unprecedented, multifaceted impact of the Internet, the array of synthetic imagery presented on social media and of course the harmful beauty standards virulently perpetuated by the fashion industry have all combined to deal a mighty blow to our collective mental wellbeing. Pair this toxic combo with an incredibly isolating global pandemic and quarantine, and it's no wonder/surprise we are feeling the worst we've ever been.
As a powerful form of self-expression, our clothes allow us to speak to the world in a uniquely visceral way. Fashion is truly about reflecting how we feel on the inside, on the outside. In an a time when mental wellbeing has never before been so prominent, it makes sense that we begin to incorporate discussions around mental health into our fashion. So without further ado, here are 3 streetwear fashion brands actively working to advocate mental health.
Maison de Choup
Maison de Choup describes itself as ‘A fashion brand with a mental health cause at its heart’. This T-shirt company was born out of founder George David Hodgson’s struggles with anxiety and OCD, which began while he was in high school. The brand specialises in clean, minimalist, and ‘non-triggering’ prints designed to spread awareness about mental health in a subtle yet stylish way, including phrases such as: ‘Sometimes I’m OK, sometimes, I’m not’, ‘Don’t feed the fears’, ‘Don’t bottle it’ and simply ‘Breathe’.
George says he wants the clothes to be a way to start a conversation around mental health, explaining how his struggles with his mental health left him feeling isolated from everyone in his life, saying he ‘felt so alone, because he didn’t know anyone else was going through the same experiences’, which only made it harder to deal with his anxiety. And this brand doesn’t just raise awareness; although George was lucky enough to have access to private therapy to support his recovery, he realises that not everyone will have this opportunity. Thus, he ensures the brand also gives back, by donating 25% of its proceeds to YoungMindsUK, a UK-based mental health charity.
Boys Get Sad Too
Boys Get Sad Too is a streetwear brand dedicated to – you guessed it – raising awareness for men’s mental health, by tackling the prevelant toxic stereotype that men should always be ‘strong’. Entirely a self-funded project, Boys Get Sad Too began in a began in a pop-up shop in Soho and has since reached across the UK, achieving recognition from the likes of the Metro, the Evening Standard and even Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn. However, their message has always remained the same: ‘When you wear our clothing, you are opening up the conversation around male mental health by acknowledging that mental illness can affect everyone. It is a reminder that no one is alone in this.’ The fact that 84 men take their lives every week in the UK is presented on their website to highlight the severity of this issue, which is in desperate need of de-stigmatisation. Boys Get Sad Too tackles this directly by donating 20 percent of its proceeds to Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), a UK-based non-profit organisation providing support for men impacted by suicide. With a wide range of brightly coloured T-shirts hoodies, accessories and stickers all bearing the brand’s message (not to mention 10% off your first order), Boys Get Sad Too is a heart-centred streetwear brand you won’t want to miss.
The Local Love Club
The Local Love Club is a female-led fashion collaboration on a mission to ‘make kindness cool’. Despite now being one of the biggest names in streetwear and celebrity stylist for the likes of Hailey Bieber, founder Maeve Reilly has – just like so many of us – had her own share of being bullied, and now draws on her own experiences to create a collection of bold designs emphasising kindness, compassion and strength. She believes ‘There’s enough space for all of us to succeed if we can learn to let go of judgment & lift each other up’, and hopes her clothes will help to the spark those vulnerable conversations which are so important in fostering support and empathy for each other. The Local Love Club – to which ‘everyone’s invited’ - also donates a percentage of each sale to Kind Campaign, an anti-bullying organisation dedicated to making the world a kinder place.
Ultimately, our mental health is truly the lens through which we see the world. If we don’t feel good, looking good doesn’t doesn’t really matter. So the next time you're choosing an outfit, take a second to think about how you can use your style to some stigma.