Dress for Success: Apparel Brand Uses T-Shirts to Destigmatize Mental Illness

“How would you define mental health?” Kyle MacNevin, the 23-year-old cofounder of clothing brand Wear Your Label, said on Friday night at the opening of a two-day pop-up shop in Santa Monica, California.

There isn’t a simple, nonacademic definition, MacNevin and his cofounder, 22-year-old Kayley Reed, said. The two entrepreneurs are working to change perceptions about what it means to be mentally healthy.

“We often define having mental health as not having mental illness,” MacNevin said. “Like, ‘I’m healthy because I’m not depressed.’ ‘I’m healthy because I’m not schizophrenic.’ That has a negative connotation.”

To counter those connotations, the Canada-based business partners have designed T-shirts and tank tops with slogans such as “Anxious but Courageous” and “It’s Okay Not to Be Okay.” They use the garments to encourage their customers to embrace their mental health labels without shame. Their apparel also features self-care tags—similar to washing instructions—that were developed with help from mental health professionals. The tags remind people to meditate, stretch, and laugh.

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