by Ana Sekler (MA 2016)
Sky Cubacub (BFA 2015) has been on a creative whirlwind since graduating from SAIC. From successfully funding a Kickstarter for their clothing line and being featured in several local newspapers, to organizing numerous fashion performances and speaking at the University of Utah’s Pride Week, Cubacub is gaining momentum.
Cubacub’s Rebirth Garments line challenges dominant fashion ideologies, creates a space for gender non-conforming garments, and celebrates people on the full spectrum of gender, size, and ability. “I consider all of my clothing lingerie, even a pair of leggings or a floor-length dress, because it’s all trying to make us feel sexy because everyone has a sexy body,” says Cubacub.
Launched in November 2014, the clothing line offers brightly colored leggings, crop tops, binders, and bike shorts with Cubacub’s signature geometric patterns, which are inspired by the works of German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer and American architect Buckminster Fuller.
Cubacub has always been a maker, they were awarded a Presidential Scholarship to attend SAIC in recognition of their high school chain mail collection Repetitive Motion. Headwear, jewelry, and sculptural garments made from chain mail—tiny aluminum rings in varying colors linked together with pliers to create the intricate pieces—were the focus of Cubacub’s practice for a long time. While they still create with chain mail, their practice has shifted to focus on clothing. Cubacub, who identifies as a gender queer person of color, interprets fashion for those that the mainstream fashion world excludes.
One of the principles behind Rebirth Garments is the concept of “radical visibility,” a term coined by Associate Professor Romi Crawford to describe Cubacub’s aesthetic. “We need to be radically visible, because we shouldn’t be ignored. We need to have this kind of visibility in order to be humanized, and we aren’t going to hide in closets or institutions or homes. We deserve to be out and about and to be looked at,” says Cubacub.
Recently Cubacub traveled to Oakland for Queer Fashion Week. When organizers were unwilling to comply with Cubacub’s accessibility needs—suggesting carrying models in wheelchairs onto the stage rather than providing a ramp—Cubacub launched their own show at a theater in Oakland in response. With the help of two friends, the renegade “queercrip” fashion show was organized in only four days. The show had an ASL interpreter, visual description of the garments during the dancing part of the show, and a scent-free area.
This attention to each individual, each detail of a show, or each garment that they work on resonates with those who attend the performances, buy the customized garments, and have the chance to work with Cubacub. “After the Oakland show, a friend of one of my models thanked me for the show since they hadn’t been able to go to any events for the past two years because of their disabilities and sensitivities. That was amazing, hearing that,” says Cubacub.
Back home in their Chicago studio, Cubacub had a brief moment to regroup and unwind before getting back to work. With Queer Fashion week and University of Utah Pride week behind them and plans to hire a collaborator with their Kickstarter earnings and continue working on their Radical Visibility zine, Cubacub shows no signs of slowing down. For Cubacub, Rebirth Garments is just one way they are breathing new life into the fashion world.