Rebirth Garments believes highly in visibility.
A colorful presence in the fashion underground, creator Sky Cubacub has approached their line with much more care and intent than many designers’ baseline motivation towards outcomes of appearance. Their work exuberantly explores embodiment and outer expression while deconstructing and re-inventing functionality of clothing construction beyond industry standards that more often exclude than include. Celebrating a wide range of bodies, this born-and-raised Chicago creative fights the social restrictions of binaries and ableism while upholding radical joy in revolutionary wearable art.
In what ways are your garments friendly to QueerCrip, non-binary, etc?
Rebirth Garments are completely customizable and made to a client’s specific measurements so they are made for people of literally any size. I also love with playing with the idea of making something that only a person with a specific disability can really wear out and about. I’ve made this one mermaid tail mono thigh high that really only a wheelchair user could wear. I had a lot of fun with it because it was paired with a skirt that had garter clips placed on the top and on the side (so that while they are sitting, the garter clips aren’t digging into the back of their legs), but also having the space between the skirt and the thigh high allows for a catheter to have a place to go through. I have also made skirts, shorts and dresses with a completely sheer back that a wheelchair user could wear out an about whereas a person who is walking probably couldn’t because of nudity laws. It’s like a sexy little secret.
Some other accommodations I have made: If someone needs a certain cut out to allow any tubes/lines to come through or a pocket somewhere for an insulin pump or a packer pocket to be added to some bottoms, or a binder to be built into a swimsuit, tucking undies built into a swimsuit. None of my work is gendered. I don’t make any assumptions about what my customers identify as and I try to be as neutral as possible. There are some things that were specifically designed with certain types of people/ identities in mind, but I try to make it clear that anyone can wear it. All of my work has no tags and can be made with seams on the outside for folx with sensitive skin or sensory sensitivities.
How has your personal physical embodiment affected your approach to clothing construction?
I had a lot of problems when I was growing up with seams really hurting my skin. I had to wear my socks and underwear all inside out because when I would get home, I would have bruises where the seams were. I also don’t put in elastic in waistbands (unless it is specifically asked for) in order to allow for the most stretching and fluctuating as possible. I have a stomach disorder, which makes it so that non stretchy clothing such as jeans or even stretchy clothing with tight waistbands make me feel very sick and hurt a lot.
Your Radical Visibility Zine is highly based not just in philosophy but actualized practice. Tell us more about why this is important to you and how clothing tackles activism beyond simple ideology.
My work is all about Radical Visibility and making clothing for queer folx with disabilities. I am trying to promote our Physical visibility because it is an important step towards political and social freedom and equality.
The Women’s dress reform movement of the 1850’s was instructive to me in the way the suffragettes used dress as a political statements and a way to subvert and gain respect. Needing the clothing to allow for full range of movement, needing it to be easier to put on and easier to clean is what rational dress was about. We have learned from the past successes of oppressed peoples and should actively adapt those techniques to fit our needs as oppressed people today.
In the past couple of years Trans folx and disabled folx have been seen more in media, but there are still not enough clothing lines that are focusing on our needs. I am using Radical Visibility as a call to action to dress in order to not be ignored, to reject “passing” and assimilation.
What is your aesthetic inspiration based in?
In Radical Visibility, aesthetics are not just as important as the functionality; aesthetics are inherently political in their function. All of the designs in Rebirth Garments use fantastically bright colors. This is because “colour threatens disorder – but also promises liberty” which is a quote from David Batchelor’s book, Chromophobia. Exuberant geometry is used in many different ways, in the patterns printed on fabric, and in the cut of the garments, power clashing with layered and spliced together patterns. Any geometrical shape is awesome, but triangles are especially encouraged due to the effort to triangulate and subvert the binary. Clothing cuts that highlight our bodies, not hide them. Being clear and confident signified by transparent fabrics. We are not confused, and we are not apologetic for being ourselves.
I am also heavily influenced by a combo of my favorite childhood things - Xena: Warrior Princess, Sailor Moon, and the Spice Girls, a perfect holy trinity of 1990’s queer femmes. I think that if you smashed these three together, they would turn out looking like my clothing line.
We would love to know more about the collaborations involved with the photographer and other contributors for this shoot.
Sandra Oviedo a.k.a. ColectivoMultipolar is a Chicago based photographer who loves the dance floor, artists, and their creative spaces. Inspired by a diverse collective of artists she is often surrounded by, she began to use ColectivoMultipolar in honor of that diversity. Born in Mexico, her first flight was to Chicago during her adolescence and felt in love with the city and its community. Having studied Communications, she discovered photography was the ideal language to express what it means to be alive.
All of the photos are taken by ColectivoMultipolar who I have been collaborating a lot with in the past 2 years. This is the first time that I have gotten to do a photoshoot that hasn’t been documentation for a show, so it was exciting to have the models wear multiple lqqks and getting more time than just a couple of minutes to perfect their poses. It is really wonderful working with a Mexicana power dyke photographer. She is very caring, positive, and conscientious with the models which I have found to be very rare in a photographer. I feel very lucky because I have been able to work with a few of amazing photographers over the years, but a lot of my experience in the past was very misogynistic, fetishising, belittling, fatphobic and ableist. Sandra puts everyone at ease, while being able to capture the spirit and personality of the models and making sure the clothing is also being shown off. We had a lot of fun in this photoshoot and I think that comes across.
In one photo, Alex is wearing a binder that is a collaboration between Rebirth and Vulpinic Vestements! It is one of my pastel sports binders and it is embedded with a geometric hexagon pattern in silicone. We will be taking custom orders for these binder/ sports bras in any color that I offer with silicone in any color Vulpinic Vestements offers. Vulpinic Vestements is an exploration in the infusion of silicone and fabric into wearable art. Bright colors and dimensional, caricatured forms dominate the designs. Molds are hand sculpted or 3d printed, then run in skin-safe, platinum based silicone. Pigmentation comes from inert earth pigments or makeup grade pigment.
Are these pieces one of a kind or ready-to-wear?
My work is kind of in between one of a kind and ready to wear. Everything I do is all custom made, so in that sense it is one of a kind, but I never retire a look. I am always down to make anyone something I have made before but in their size with whatever adaptations they may need. I am currently looking into making some of my basics like binders and tucking undies into ready to wear in order to try to figure out a more affordable option for people, but I would have a different sizing system than the fatphobic fashion industry “standardized sizing”.
We would love to be introduced to the models as well!
C'est Kevvie (pictured above) is the ‘Body Positive Art Hoe’, a transgender drag queen from Chicago. She is a drag historian who is going to open a drag museum. Kevvie also competed on the first season of YouTube series Camp Wannakiki.
Alex (they/them) is a queer Chinese-American UX designer, writer, and martial artist. Sometimes they become Tofu Daddy, a seductive drag king who's out to steal your man with his rugged good looks and muscular moves.
Val H has lived in Chicago for three years. They decided to nest in the neighborhood Rogers Park where they feel closest to their trans and queer community plus the gay beaches by the wonderful Lake Michigan. Val's leg sleeve is a custom one of a kind design by Rebirth Garments. Val realized one day that the size of Rebirth's bandana was the perfect fit to have laminated around their socket, they were excited to have something glamorously signifying their queer crip identity.
Juju Minxxx is ‘America's LeatherClad Sweetheart’ Femme Daddy Kink/Leather Ambassador n Educator n Dominatrix Rapper
Abhijeet is a drag performer and party publicist in Chicago for Berlin Nightclub and A Queer Pride.
Sunni Johnson is the Arts Editor of WUSSY and a writer, zinester, and musician based in Atlanta, GA.