Medium Reality’s gender-neutral fashion uses natural dyes made from rust, and laser-cuts designs rather than using toxic screen-printing methods.
This week, Oakland, California, creatives showed off their gorgeous, eclectic visions at The Beautiful Ones fashion show at The Crucible in West Oakland. With models of all shapes, abilities, races and genders walking down a fiery runway, Hot Couture: The Beautiful Ones was naturally the perfect space to showcase the genderfluid and extremely eco-conscious clothing line Medium Reality, as well as the incredibly talented musical collective The Oakland Mind and another great project belonging to the same designer, Electro-Baroque.
Based in the Bay and active for ten years, Medium Reality is the brainchild of Rachel Lyra Hospodar. “Our label focuses on recycled and reclaimed materials in order to be sustainable as hell … But it doesn’t stop there! Sustainability is a flexible concept that makes room for all the ways that we must work to sustain ourselves and our culture in a rapidly changing world,” Hospodar explains.
The designer takes sustainability incredibly seriously. Hospodar uses natural dyes made from naturally occurring processes like rust, and non-toxic processes to create the designs. Instead of using screen-printing methods that employ unnecessary petroleum and boost Hospodar’s carbon footprint, the designer laser-cuts the images and then sews them onto each garment. When it comes to transporting the pieces, they use bicycle transportation whenever possible.
“We have also been responsive to the massive California droughts, altering our processes and even our production locations to make sure we don’t overtax the hardest-hit water tables,” says Hospodar.
Medium Reality also addresses fashion from another important angle: access for all bodies. While many of the pieces may initially read as menswear, they are created with all genders in mind and made with accessible sizing.
“When we say that we make ‘clothes for every body,’ this is a deeply examined slogan. What does it mean? Whose bodies are excluded? … We have always sought to serve a wide range of body types, and after many years are happy to say that we have developed styles that can serve all bodies. We have our customers to thank, people who have been open and honest with us about their needs and have worked with us to help develop styles that serve every body,” the designer explains.
In a world dominated by a very binary clothing industry, “un-gendered” clothing is rarely an option. To add insult to injury, it is often assumed that traditionally masculine clothing is “gender neutral,” erasing all traditionally feminine silhouettes and features as cultural byproducts, further pushing the idea that “masc is good, femme is bad” and indoctrinating even the most queer of folks with deeply internalized misogynist ideals.
That is not the case with Medium Reality. Medium Reality takes the time and thought to introduce bespoke details to each piece, some which read “femme,” and to mix silhouettes, creating something uniquely their own and accessible to all gender identities.
“We are proud to present an un-gendered line of clothing, where each piece is unique and whole without being split into two different bodies of work,” Hospodar continues. “A shirt is a shirt, and is a shirt for whoever loves it, regardless of their gender identity. We are proud to serve a wide range of body sizes, because our friends come this way and we love them as they are.”
“For a lot of my customers it’s the first time they are getting custom or designer clothes, so that’s fun. I like encouraging people to really break the rules and that they can wear anything. A lot of society’s rules and pressures come on display around the way that clothes fit, and I like to think it can be really healing to play dress up and get to wear anything and break all the rules. I really like to play dress up and I think this can be a goal all of its own. Because of all this I take garment construction really seriously and am always trying to learn and improve how I can fit every body, and I do a lot of custom alterations to make sure that clothes fit people who are not usually well served by the garment industry,” Hospodar says.
Her ethos is incredibly reflective of the space in which her brand has come up.
“The Bay Area, long a stronghold of radical culture and innovative art, is undergoing so much change and growth that many artists are being forced out. We have a commitment to supporting underground culture because we remember where we came from, and want to remind everyone that artistic innovation happens all around us and needs our support!”