I am pretty passionate about both fashion and disability activism, so when I was asked to do this I was excited about it and it seemed like a no brainer!
I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that for me manifests mostly in severe chronic pain. It also leads to looser joints, making me more prone to dislocations, so I need to be careful doing almost everything.
Because I’m not visibly disabled and my disability lies more in the realm of pain, I don’t need use a whole lot of aids, but if my joints are feeling particularly bad I use things like knee braces, and if I am in a place that requires a lot of walking like a theme park I will use a wheelchair to avoid severe pain.
I don’t really know if my disability would affect the design of my garment, but perhaps something that makes wearing things like knee braces easier to wear would be nice, as sometimes it is hard to find pants that accommodate wearing braces without them being clunky or annoying.
For me, because I have an invisible disability, it’s hard to say how exactly the designs could celebrate my disability. But for me, just dressing the way that I do and how I like feels like a celebration of my disability and everything about me. Even though I don’t often feel up to it, I still like to dress kind of “extra” because it makes me feel better about myself and about a lot of the aspects of me that I struggle with.
For me, comfort isn’t really all that important. I prioritize style when wearing clothing because I’m super into my own personal style. I sometimes joke saying I’m a “goth clown” but that’s sort of it: I love bright colors and busy patterns but I definitely also like to mix in some darker aspects into that style. Black pieces mixed in with the bright colors, platform shoes, jewelry with motifs like knives, safety pins, locks, and guillotines, and pants chains. I think my style is pretty unique to me and I’m very proud of it.
Devin on the design of their garment and how they want to feel in their clothing:
Dialogue with Devin
Confidence Through Color
The Confidence Through Color project is inspired by people living with invisible disabilities and chronic pain.
We spoke with Devin Nissan who is diagnosed with Ehler-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue disorder that causes chronic pain. Devin stated that because EDS is considered an invisible illness, they do not have any specific mobility issues that need to be uniquely addressed; however, they indicated that they use clothing and fashion to feel better on a day-to-day basis despite their pain. Devin stated that they feel their best in bold patterns with an edgy yet quirky aesthetic.
Our look features a cropped oversized polo shirt with an exaggerated collar. The sleeves, collar, and edge finishings feature a fun floral pattern with a color scheme in-line with Devin’s self-described “goth clow” style. The fishnet top underneath caters to their preference for layering. We also designed a leather jacket with plenty of hardware, which Devin feels most confident in. Devin further indicated that it would be ideal for their clothing to be versatile to adapt to their ever-changing needs.
On particularly painful days, Devin says they will wear a knee-brace or use a wheelchair if they know they would need to walk a lot. For this reason, we designed a loose cargo pant that can also convert to shorts and can accommodate a knee brace worn both ways. Through this project, we learned about the experiences of those with invisible illnesses that have to suffer through pain regularly. However, Devin also allowed us to understand how creative expression through fashion can allow people with chronic pain to experience more confidence and comfort in their bodies.