Millennials are taking over, and the fashion industry is no exception. Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed are the two young entrepreneurs behind Wear Your Label, the fashion line that is creating conversations around mental health, in style.
One in five people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, yet no one talks about it. The pair wants everyone to start talking and uses fashion as a means to get the conversation started. Having both fought through mental illnesses of their own (Kyle has General Anxiety Disorder, while Kayley is recovering from Anorexia Nervosa), the duo decided to blend their passions for awareness and fashion to encourage others to feel empowered to share their own stories.
The line offers stylish unisex clothing items with inspirational messages such as “Sad But Rad” and “Self-Care Isn’t Selfish” to remind everyone that it’s OK to not be OK. Ten percent of WYL earnings are donated to mental-health initiatives.
Literally, Darling spoke with Co-Founder Kayley Reed to learn more about the brand and how the duo is changing the way we talk about mental health.
What was the inspiration for the brand? Kyle and I met just over a year ago when we were both working for a mental health organization in New Brunswick. We were both students at the time and met while working with a world health organization. We eventually opened up to each other and shared our own stories; it was natural to work in that environment and share your own story.
It’s more difficult to talk to other people who are not directly involved with mental health. I hadn’t really even told my family or my friends what I was going through. We really just hit it off and realized that we were both really passionate about mental health, and passionate about fashion.
Tell us a little bit about the “bracelet” project. Our bracelets were kind of a side project to the clothing. We’ve always had this idea for people to wear their label openly. If you can take ownership over [your labels], they can’t take ownership over you. If you see someone wearing the same color, you know they just get it. It’s since become more successful than our clothing.
What’s your favorite item? I have two. One is the Your Story Isn’t Over leggings. I remember in high school, I had a couple friends who self-harmed, and it’s a really common place for people to cut themselves. With our leggings, they can just look at their leg that their story isn’t over, don’t give up.
I also like the I<3ME shirt. It’s just so comfortable and subtle enough that I can wear it out to work events or other places, and it’s not screaming “I’m wearing Wear Your Label” but still has that same meaning.
Any future plans to expand? We have some collaborations in the works with some big organizations and nonprofits in Canada and the U.S. Giving back has always been the core of what we wanted to do, so being able to work with these organizations is really exciting. We have plans with retailers for higher-end lines, dresses, blazers, button-downs, and more plus sizes. We haven’t had the capacity to do that yet, but it’s in the plan.
What’s been the reaction to the brand? We get of emails and stories every day from people who share their own experiences. Some of the emails I read will say things like, “I’m crying right now; your website is breath of fresh air.” Other people who have bought the clothing will email afterwards and tell us that they’re having a bad day and that our sweater is the best antidepressant they’ve ever had.
We use our personal stories even though neither of us are fully recovered. We can use those struggles to help others find their strength, and we’re doing that with fashion.
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