How Nathon Kong is weaving the art of mental health recovery into fashion.
Today’s topic is a little different than what you would normally read here at Find Your Dazzle. Last month the people at Nathon Kong asked me if they could provide a blog post about mental health and fashion.
I was intrigued because it’s not too often that we think about mental health and fashion at the same time. I thought it was an interesting topic and an important one since the mental health conversation is one that should be had more often. Not only that but after this past year and a half, we’re all realizing how important it is to talk about our mental health.
Weaving the Art of Mental Health Recovery into Fashion
Nathon Kong is a fashion company located in Montreal, Canada, with a purpose. Every accessory features an artwork by a creator telling their story of mental health recovery. We want our clients to feel an emotional connection to what they wear through the stories each creation tells. 10% or more of all proceeds are donated to nonprofit organizations supporting mental health.
Mental health. Art. Fashion. These domains may seem like they have nothing in common. But we at Nathon Kong believe that they are all important to our everyday lives. That is why we try to combine them to create art pieces filled with purpose.
Mental Health Issues and Stigmas
Encountering mental health difficulties isn’t a unique thing. Of course, there’s a spectrum. Some of us have chronic and medical reasons underlying our mental health troubles, but we all experience low points in our mental wellness. It’s just part of the package deal that comes with living. We can’t care about something without feeling anxious about it. We can’t find meaning in anything if we don’t get depressed when something doesn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.
There is a stigma that exists in the domain of mental health that when we are in these low points in our wellbeing it means that there is something wrong with us that needs to be fixed. Like we’re sick or lacking. But ‘mental health’ isn’t something you can say you have or don’t have. It fluctuates from day to day or moment to moment. Mental health troubles affect all of us, and that’s okay.
How Art Therapy Works
In trying to explain how art therapy can benefit a person’s mental health, it may be helpful to talk about kintsugi.
Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery. Instead of simply putting the broken pieces back together with a clear epoxy or glue, the cracks are filled in with gold. When the pottery is repaired the damage is displayed prominently, but it is also beautiful. This turns the pottery into a one-of-a-kind work of art.
When it comes to art, from painting to fashion, tastes vary. When we find an artwork that strikes us, we may have difficulty articulating what it is we like about it. We may talk about the technical elements, an artist’s expertise, or the symmetry of a piece, but then how do we explain this piece by Sergio Larenas, a participant at Montreal’s Les Impatients?
Artists often find themselves unable to explain why they made certain design decisions in their artwork, often saying ‘it just felt right.’ The creation of art seems to come from some unconscious part of ourselves where words may not be able to explain its emotions and feelings. For many participants of Les Impatients, art therapy is a way of drawing out what is going on at the subconscious level and giving it shape on canvas so they can communicate their story.
Fashion and Storytelling
Fashion is another art form where we say something about ourselves through the clothes we wear. That is why we at Nathon Kong believe that fashion can be purposeful by telling these stories of mental health recovery.
Les Impatients is a nonprofit organization in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that we work very closely with. The organization hosts a variety of therapeutic art classes, from painting to drawing to music, and helps people with mental health troubles by giving them a safe space to create and explore their emotions through art.
Nathon Kong takes some of the artwork created by Les Impatients and transforms them into something practical and artful by making them fashion accessories that both look good and feels good to wear. These limited edition accessories tell the stories of the artists who created them and raises awareness for mental health. They also support mental health since Nathon Kong donates 10% of all proceeds to organizations like Les Impatients who assist people with mental health troubles and local artists.
Mental health. Art. Fashion. Three disconnected areas, each with their own troubles and imperfections, come together to create new meaning and tell a story.
Thank you so much to Nathon Kong for writing this post and providing some insight into how art and fashion can have a positive part in the mental health of our society. Are you familiar with art therapy or the Nathon Kong brand? Let me know your take in the comments below!