‘Radical Visibility’ Brought Garments For All — And a Dance Party — to The Carnegie
As a clothing designer, Sky Cubacub has style on the mind but conversely has no interest in being fashionable. In fact, that word suggests the opposite of Cubacub’s vision, which is to develop gender non-conforming clothes and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size and ability.
“Fashionable is all about being able to be fashioned and I reject that,” says Cubacub, who is gender fluid. Through Rebirth Garments, their clothing and accessory line, Cubacub creates wearables specialized to meet the needs of transgender, genderqueer and disabled individuals.
“Fashion in itself is inherently exclusive and that's why I also don't necessarily identify as a fashion designer,” Cubacub says. “That’s why I call it Rebirth Garments. I am a garment maker, even though I’m making clothing and all clothing is seen under the realm of fashion, but I am trying to do a thing that is opposite of what fashion has been doing for centuries.”
The Carnegie in Covington, Kentucky is hosting an exhibit that features Rebirth Garments called Radical Visibility, which loudly opposes — if not defies — today’s runway and commercial trends.
The March 15 reception featured 25 models, including Cubacub, and approximately 50 handmade pieces. The garments will be on display through May along with a video of the runway event.
The collection for Radical Visibility was directly inspired by their late father, Arturo Cubacub. A painter, Arturo often manipulated geometric designs into sleek patterns of color and symmetry. Using his paintings from the 1970s along with his music, Lindsey Whittle — a local artist and longtime friend of Cubacub — created prints that Sky then incorporated into their collection.
Every Rebirth Garment is custom made and tailored to the individual model — and not just on the runway. The majority of sales come from Cubacub’s Etsy page, where an average of one piece per day is sold, they say. There are no standard sizes, no tags and Cubacub also caters to people with sensory sensitivity by offering items with seams on the outside of the garment.
“Most clothing for folks with disabilities or trans folks are boring and very medicalizing and pathologizing and look like scrubs or bandaids,” they say. “That’s not celebratory of people. So I wanted to make stuff that looks really cute and sexy or comfortable, and through that it helps with your emotions when you are wearing it.”
Gender-affirming pieces such as chest binders and tucking underwear are among Rebirth’s most popular items. They honor the opportunity to make something beautiful, but also useful, with bright, neon colors and geometric shapes and patterns.
For Cubacub, everyday is a performance. Making art and making clothes are interchangeable and wearing their designs is more than a statement. They refer to their clothes and accessories as “emotional armor” that facilitate social interactions and validate confidence.
Rebirth works to create communities that refuse to assimilate or accept “sizeist, ableist and transphobic” beauty standards through the activation of their art and unapologetic presence.
|For our full article on Rebirth Garments and Cubacub — written by Katie Griffith — click here.| Photos by Hailey Bollinger