A Fredericton-based clothing company is launching a new campaign to highlight the reality of mental illnesses and disorders.

Wear Your Label, co-founded by Renaissance College graduate Kayley Reed, is working with Lance Blakney and Dee Wilkie for the project. Mr. Blakney is an alumnus of UNB Fredericton and works for the university’s media services department.

Mr. Blakney and Wear Your Label first teamed up in 2015, when he shot behind-the-scenes footage of how the clothing company operates. Following that collaboration, he and Ms. Wilkie, a textile designer, both separately approached Wear Your Label about creating a portrait series.

“Dee and I realized we’re after the exact same thing, so we decided to combine our efforts to make it that much better,” Mr. Blakney said.

The DEFINE series aims to paint a more realistic portrait of mental health. Ms. Wilkie is designing colour-coordinated fabric to match various mental health issues. Wear Your Label has another campaign, the Bracelet Project, and the colours represented on various bracelets will align with the fabric.

Ms. Reed said the campaign will be a raw representation of what it feels to live with these disorders.

“A lot of campaigns around mental illness try to portray people as ‘normal’, but we want to use the creative process to show the highs and the lows that are experienced with mental illness. It’s not going to be normal. It’s going to be gut-wrenching. But sometimes you need that.”

“A lot of campaigns we’ve seen have been idealized or glamorized, or tone down the issue,” added Mr. Blakney. “I personally struggle with depression, so working with Wear Your Label last summer was a turning point for me. Their messages are about creating a conversation around mental illness. This is the next step in that journey.”

The campaign is still in its early stages, with Wear Your Label casting what they call Role Models. People from across Atlantic Canada are welcome to apply and Ms. Reed said they’ve received more than 100 applications so far.

There aren’t any requirements to be in the campaign – no size, height or weight restrictions – but models will have to be comfortable talking about their disorders.

“We’re just asking people to share their stories with us,” she said.

Media contact: Kelsey Pye

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