Sometimes, we run across a much-needed reminder that fashion isn't solely about personal expression, and it's more than a massive global industry; it can also be used for good. Unfortunately, hospitals and fashion don't really mix all that often (and no, we're not talking about "stylish scrubs"). That's why Ward + Robes grabbed our attention: The initiative, started by Starlight Children's Foundation, gives a fresh new spin on hospital gowns for teen patients. The organization's Canadian branch paired up with a few creatives, spanning the gamut from fashion designers to a tattoo artist to an embroiderer, to design the pieces. The looks created by the project's six selected talents are a far cry from the drab, standard-issue garments typically worn by hospital patients. The aim: to bring a small dose of joy to children spending time in the hospital by giving them garb that allows for way more personal expression. "Wearing a hospital gown is like being in the hospital: There is nothing good about it," one girl said in the video about the project, which you can watch below. "It sort of makes me feel like my identity's been stripped away from me," another teen remarked, referring to the negative impact of spending lengthy stints in dreary hospital gowns, completely devoid of any personal expression.
"When you can't wear what you want, you feel like you're not who you should be, or you're just your illness, or you're just a hospital patient," one of the teens featured in the clip explained.
Ward + Robes started at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, Canada, and the aim is to bring the program to other hospitals throughout Canada next. It sounds like the program will also make its way across the border to the U.S. at some point. "We want this to go national, if not worldwide," Brian Bringolf, executive director of Starlight's Canadian branch, told The Globe and Mail. (The organization also has outposts in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.) You can check out more Ward + Robe designs on Instagram; the project's hashtag is #wardrobes4teens. Warning: You seriously might want to have a box of Kleenex handy before watching the video, below. If you want to pitch in to help Starlight Children's Foundation's efforts, you can donate here.