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How jewellery brand YVMIN is treating prosthetics like wearable art

YVMIN has collaborated with model Xiao Yang on a collection of statement prosthesis accessories in the hope that people with disabilities will feel better included in fashion.

Regardless of strides taken in recent years to improve upon the absence of disability representation in fashion – namely major brands recognising their responsibility to support the community by featuring them in campaigns and developing adaptive clothing lines – industry-wide ableism prevails.

At fault of propagating discrimination in favour of the able-bodied, retailers and designers alike continue to churn out garments that don’t cater to those suffering from chronic conditions or impairments.

When they do, the pieces are often inclined to functionality, leaving the style component overlooked.

It’s this, alongside a desire to challenge stereotypes, that model Xiao Yang (who’s been wearing a prosthetic leg for twenty years) is seeking to change with her YVMIN collaboration.

‘In high school, when I was very eager to dress up, I thought that the prosthetic limbs affected my external beauty,’ she told Vogue in an interview. ‘Wearing a prosthesis caused one side of my buttocks to be deformed. I felt unsafe wearing tight pants or tops that were shorter than the buttocks – like I was being exposed.’

As of late, however, Yang has been experimenting more with style, deeming her prosthetic a unique form of self-expression instead of something unpleasant to be hidden away.

 

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A post shared by YVMIN (@yvmin_official)

Taking this notion on board, Xiaoyu Zhang and Min Li (the Chinese jewellery company’s co-founders) discovered their inspiration: to treat prosthetics like wearable art.

‘We think it is only natural to decorate any part of our body, prosthetic as well,’ explains Zhang.

‘This project tells everyone that wearing a prosthesis is a fact that cannot be changed – but wearing a prosthesis that looks gorgeous is also achievable.’

YVMIN, renowned for its experimental approach to jewellery design, describes its output as a ‘body accessory laboratory.’ Though Zhang and Li typically create delicate, feminine pieces, they saw this as an opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and work within an entirely new field.

One that gives people more choice, no matter which group they belong to.

‘Jewellery is a very simple way of creation for us,’ adds Li. ‘It is not like clothing or other accessories that need to undertake any use or function, it’s for everyone who wears it. It’s pure spiritual expression.’

 

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The result is a range of decorative shells that can be securely attached by concealed magnets over a prosthesis to avoid any technical issues, complete with imaginative details like heart-shaped kneecaps and jagged shapes meant to resemble a growing plant.

Made from lightweight nylon and resin materials, YVMIN uses 3D scans of the wearer’s prosthetic limb to ensure the structure fits well and won’t impact mobility.

Unsurprisingly, the beautiful creations received a great deal of hype across social media, YVMIN garnering thousands of likes for its post announcing the partnership with Yang.

But for many users, it’s been more than just a viral fashion moment, rather a statement that industry-wide disability representation and inclusivity is on the up.

On this note, the trio agree there is space for other labels to begin exploring more design-driven prosthetics and they hope it won’t be long before this happens.

‘There are too few prosthetic styles available now,’ finishes Zhang. ‘We hope this project lets more people pay attention to the decorations that can be used for prosthetics – this is our motivation for the future.’

 

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