This Chinese jewelry brand turned prosthetics into wearable art

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Xiao Yang, Chinese influencer and model based in Chengdu, has been wearing a prosthetic leg for almost 20 years. Although she says she is now an integral part of her body, Yang’s prosthesis has led her to have a difficult relationship with fashion and clothing. “In high school, when I really wanted to get dressed, I thought prosthetic limbs affected my outward beauty,” she says. Vogue. “Wearing a prosthesis also caused a deformity on one side of my buttocks. I [still] I don’t feel safe wearing tight pants or tops that are shorter than the buttocks, like [I’m] being exposed. I wore T-shirts and straight pants for a long time.

Recently, however, Yang has started experimenting more with her fashion choices and has found herself increasingly wanting her prosthesis to reflect her sleek, modern style (she has a closet full of graphic tees and trendy blazers, by the way). Earlier this year in Chengdu, when she met Xiaoyu Zhang and Min Li, the two creators of Chinese jewelry brand YVMIN, and the three of them had an idea: what if we treat prostheses like wearable art?

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Photo: Courtesy of YVMIN

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Photo: Courtesy of YVMIN

“We believe it is natural to decorate any part of our body, including prosthetics,” says Zhang. Yang instantly agreed with the concept, which involved transforming her prosthetic limb into something of a daring accessory. “This project tells everyone that wearing a prosthesis is a fact that cannot be changed, but wearing a prosthesis that looks beautiful is also achievable,” Yang said. “This feeling is super cool; there will certainly be more people who will need to experience it. The result? Three different decorative seashells that can be worn on Yang’s prosthetic leg, with lovely details like a heart-shaped “knee pad”.

As a rule, YVMIN creates delicate and feminine jewelry, such as arched earrings and heart-shaped pendant necklaces. But the designer duo saw an opportunity to challenge themselves by working with Yang to create something entirely new. “When we saw Xiao sharing his OOTD photos on social media with his strong personal style, we thought it would be a good opportunity,” Zhang said. “We decided to only make the shell of the prosthesis, which avoids many technical problems, and also can manufacture many parts at the same time that Xiao will wear on different occasions,” Zhang explains.

To create them, the designers had to take 3D scans of Yang’s limb and prosthetic legs in order to create a structure that could easily fit over them. The shells are in nylon and resin. “This lightweight material can ensure that the shell will not load Xiao,” Zhang explains. Concealed magnets have also been added, so he can easily and securely attach to his prosthesis. Then they added different fun decorative elements – the heart-shaped kneecap, a jagged shape that’s supposed to look like a growing plant – to make them feel like a gem. “We used vacuum plating to give the resin and nylon materials a metallic luster,” Zhang explains. “We also encrusted jewelry, like purple zircon. Yang’s favorite part? The original details. “My favorite element is the heart motif on one of the seashells,” says Yang. ” The mecanic [feel of it] is not cold, it can also be cute and romantic.

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Photo: Courtesy of YVMIN

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Photo: Courtesy of YVMIN

Since posting the prosthetic designs on their Instagram pages, YVMIN and Yang have garnered thousands of likes for their unique collaboration. For many users, however, it was more than just a viral fashion moment. “I wear a prosthesis myself, but I have never seen such beauty,” commented one user. In fact, high fashion prosthetic accessories are rare. Retailers like Amputee Store sell special socks and sheaths for various prosthetics – Alleles even makes prosthetic covers in fun prints and colors – but more edgy shells like those created by YVMIN remain an anomaly (and even then , they are not for sale – they were tailor-made for Yang).

Overall, the project was a fun and one-time creative challenge for the trio. All three agree that there is room for more design-oriented prosthetics to enter the industry. “This collaboration inspired me more: I want to design prostheses,” Yang explains. As for YVMIN, they hope to inspire other labels to experiment with the idea as well. “There are too few styles of dentures available today,” says Zhang. “We [hope this project] allows more people to pay attention to decorations that can be used for prosthetics. Prosthetic wearers can have their favorite accessories without replacing expensive prostheses. We hope that our design and creation can give people more choice, no matter what group they belong to, this is our motivation for the future.

Originally appeared on Vogue

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