Mental health and fashion is something that we don’t normally marry together. Can mental health awareness be shown through fashion? Should we be using an aesthetic medium to show solidarity and understanding with people who have mental health problems? Well Erica Camus is using her fashion line MEDFED to promote mental wellbeing and to challenge stigma and stereotypes.
So Erica, what is MEDFED?
MEDFED is an original fashion label designed with your mental health in mind. It’s a “mad to order” fashion design service that allows people to consult, design and produce their own t-shirts in a variety of shapes, and styles. It’s If clothing can promote negative stereotypes, by that logic, it can also challenge them.
MEDFED also reclaims derogatory terms by covering the words in diamonds and gold and challenges bleak and grey stereotypes of people with psychosis through bright and fun fashion. It celebrates “Recovery Chic” and all that’s mentally healthy and last but not least encourages conversations about your mental health.
I use the light-hearted medium of fashion to contrast stereotypes of people with mental health problems which are portrayed in the media.
How did MEDFED come about?
It was founded in 2010 by me because of my direct experience of schizophrenia. I have a history of paranoid schizophrenia – my diagnosis today is schizo-affective. I’ve also experienced stigma – people would laugh me off as “dotty” or “scatty.”
What designs have you created?
I’ve designed a collection of signature bright colours for men and women. It includes two fruity bracelets, a man’s t-shirt in royal blue, a women’s t-shirt in neon pink, a printed canvas and a glittering clutch.
It’s called the “Recovery Collection”. The theme for the summer “Recovery Collection” is bananas and is a metaphor for all that’s fun, bright and healthy. But also a motif that can reclaim a derogatory term. It links to the phrase “you’re bananas!”.
What do you want the recovery collection to show?
For me, the designs are very aspirational. I want to empower people to feel hopeful about recovery from severe mental illness, as well as encouraging people not shy away from opening up about important discussions about mental health.
Where can people buy your designs?
The collection will be on sale on auction website eBay here. It is a one off auction starting on Monday, July 18. Ten per cent of profits from the auction will be donated to Rethink Mental Illness. Rethink Mental Illness is a mental health charity that believes a better life is possible for people affected by mental illness.