Rebirth Garments: Fashion for Every Body
A conversation with Sky Cubacub, the designer behind Rebirth Garments, a QueerCrip clothing line for all abilities, sexualities, sizes, and colors.
Rebirth Garments is a Chicago-based line that focuses on wearable pieces for customers who fall under the QueerCrip umbrella. Custom-designed for any ability, sexuality, size, and color, Rebirth is a line that challenges the status quo and traditional beauty standards.
The designer, Sky Cubacub, first envisioned this inclusive line of clothing in high school, inspired by the anxiety of shopping for clothes when most products are geared towards, and sold to, thin, white, heterosexual cis-women.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016, Sky has been working on chainmailing, the Radical Visibility Zine, and engaging with the wider Chicago arts community.
Nicole Lane: Where did the idea for Rebirth Garments come from, and how did you begin creating wearable pieces for people in the Chicago community?
Sky Cubacub: I’ve been chainmailing since I was 13 and that led me to making sculptural garments when I was in high school. I would make all of these garments and my teachers would be like, “You need to wear stuff underneath them because you’re too naked for high school. In college, you can be as naked as you want.” So then I started making these spandex unitards to go underneath. I had models who were friends of mine, not professional models. That was super important to me and it has been the entire time that I have been making clothing. I started really thinking about making queer lingerie because I personally wanted queer lingerie, but I didn’t have any access to it as a person who didn’t have a credit card or any sort of digital money. During college, I made a piece for my cousin who has a lot of disabilities—I grew up around a lot of disabilities so it was normalized to me. I never thought anything different. My own disabilities are more invisible. At first I thought I would make two separate lines: a queer lingerie line and a line for people with disabilities. But pretty much right away, I thought they should be together because I like the intersectionality.
SNL: Can you discuss the term “QueerCrip,” and how Rebirth aids in empowering queer youth and queer people?
SC: “Crip” is the politicized umbrella term, much like “Queer” is to the LGBTQ community. “Crip” is a term for anyone with disabilities or disorders, visible or invisible. They can be emotional, they can be psychological. QueerCrip is the intersection of them both. I’m super interested in working with queer youth. I volunteer at the high school that I went to. It’s very close to me.
SNL: How has the Chicago community influenced your practice? Are you from here?
SC: Yeah, I’ve lived in the same house my entire life.
SNL: Wow, so you’re pretty engrained in what’s going on here.
SC: I think it’s completely influenced. I would never want to move anywhere else. I think Chicago’s community is so amazing — I’m just speaking for myself — and I feel so safe here. Both of my parents are artists and in high school, I had a really amazing time with my teachers. I felt very strange when I went to SAIC, because I had such a strong Chicago community but I didn’t feel like SAIC had a very strong community. I didn’t feel like it was Chicago, even though it’s located here. It felt very disconnected, out of touch. Now that I’ve graduated, it’s been amazing to re-immerse myself into all of the Chicago scenes this past year and a half. I’ve been going out dancing every other night. I was just at SmartBar on Sunday. I love all of the fashion designers here because I feel like we have different ideals of beauty than the mainstream. I think in New York it’s more engrained but here, since we don’t have a solid fashion scene, it’s really easy for a few of us to shape it to our liking. It’s much better than New York’s fucked up beauty standards. I really, really love it here.
SNL: That’s so nice to hear. I love it here too. Do you take commissioned work? Is that typically how most of your work is made?
SC: Pretty much. I have commissioned work and I have Etsy. Every single thing I do is custom for each person. I don’t usually sell readymade things. I want it to fit the person perfectly.
SNL: Do you work in a studio? Or do you work at home?
SC: My family owns a building. I’ve lived on the top floor since I was 16. My parents live on the first floor. There’s part of the first floor that’s a really big studio and I’ve taken over the whole studio.
SNL: Do you work every day? What’s your schedule like?
SC: I work every day. Even though I may be resting right now, I’m chainmailing in bed. I’m still working.
SNL: Working can mean different things, too. Working in the physical sense or, doing this interview, yaknow?
SC: Yeah, totally.
SNL: You started Rebirth in 2014, correct? How has it shifted since the beginning? What kind of changes have you gone through?
SC: Yeah. It’s just been super rapid. After I got my first performance show in July of last year, I’ve been getting booked for more and more performances. It was so overwhelming. I’m trying to pace myself. Right after I graduated, I thought I would give myself a year to see if this was self-sustaining. But within six or seven months, I started making money back. I’m trying to learn how to delegate more things to other people and take a break for myself. That’s very hard for me. I think it’s super important. I want to do this for the rest of my life. If my company itself can be self-sustained, then I also need to make myself self-sustaining. I’m very interested in creating a very understanding and forgiving environment. In the fashion world, they don’t think about health. Your health isn’t supposed to come first. I want my clothing line to have those things running side by side. My health is important and so is yours.
SNL: I saw on your website that you’re going to be launching a children’s line.
SC: I’ve made children’s pieces and I would love to do more. It’s going to have to be two separate lines. There is this really awesome nonbinary eight-year-old model in Utah, and I’ve had some other kids model for me.
SNL: Awesome. To wrap things up: do you have any other exciting projects or events that you’re going to be a part of in the upcoming year?
SC: I’ve been working on the Radical Visibility Zine for a while. I’m trying to figure that out. I’ve written a manifesto to go along with my clothing line but I would really like to have a zine that’s both online and in limited print form. It would be a magazine that’s geared towards QueerCrip teens. There are a billion magazines for teen girls but they are also really terrible. I mean, they are getting a little better about not body shaming but –
SNL: It’s still problematic.
SC: Yeah, I just think that there should be a different option. I’m super interested and passionate about that. I guess I’m taking a little bit of a break. I just hosted with Lucy Stoole at Berlin and I think I’m going to be in The Ghost Planet which is at Township.
Find Rebirth Garments on social media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Featured Image: A still from Rebirth’s Kickstarter campaign video which featured performances, dance parties, and words from Sky. Photo by Kiam Marcelo Junio.
S. Nicole Lane is a visual artist, writer, and editor based in the Southside. Her work can be found on The Establishment, HelloFlo, Newcity, Bustle, and other corners of the internet, where she discusses sexual health, wellness, and the arts. Follow her on Twitter.