TikToker @Ca8ty paves the way for inclusive fashion
Photos by Ryan Lopez Clark
By Gabriela Margarone
In the name of sustainable and inclusive fashion, TikTok creator Caity, known by her handle @Ca8ty, uploads videos showcasing handmade clothing that she creates from clothing scraps, bedsheets, and even bean bags. Residing in Portland, Oregon, 23-year-old Caity has been surrounded and influenced by art her entire life, which has allowed her to thrive in the digital creative space that she’s now taken by storm.
“Art has been a huge part of my life,” Caity says. “I feel like I try to do something creative every day because that's part of my identity, and I feel like something's off if I don't draw on something or make something.”
Caity’s passion for sewing started when she realized that big box stores did not cater to her body type. Experiencing fashion as a little person was much different for her growing up, as she did not see herself represented in fashion or media, and was unable to find clothes that made her feel confident. Much of what she experienced was feeling as though she was put into a box, with limited style options to choose from. This lack of choice and expression inspired Caity to take matters into her own hands. That’s when she began creating her own clothing.
“When the pandemic started, I started getting into sewing and making my own clothes,” she says. “So, that's been a huge part of my life now. I love fashion and making clothes because, as a little person, it was hard for me to find clothes that would fit me because I have to either cut the sleeves or cut the pants.”
After finding a new spark of confidence in being able to express herself with her designs, Caity took to TikTok to find further community and share her creations, as well as exchange advice and tips. With over 85,000 followers, she is now paving the way to accessible fashion.
Growing up in an inspiring home, Caity started her artistic and creative journey by crafting and creating collage art. Calling her home and family full of “creative energy,” Caity has been continuously supported by her family, and makes crafts and clothes for them often. As for who taught her how to sew, Caity took on that journey entirely on her own, admitting to freehanding and going with the flow while sewing. We laugh about this, but it has worked for her so far!
“I don't really like following directions in the scheme of how to build [outfits],” Caity says. “I ... just try it myself. So, it was a lot of trial and error. The first pair of shorts I made was out of a blanket. It was this old blanket we probably had for, like, 10 years, which it was time to get rid of. But I tried to make a pair of shorts ... I don't want to waste fabrics. And then I looked at tutorials, so at first, I wanted to see if I could do it myself. So, a lot of it I think mostly it's just been my trial and error or tracing my old clothes to make patterns and then some videos when it really gets more complicated. But, I would say most of it was self-taught.”
A large part of Caity's fashion endeavors was fueled by the lack of clothing that was available to her. With trial and error, a lot of recycled fabric, and a sewing machine, Caity was able to, and continues to, bring her visions to life.
“I was able to learn how to [make things] and it changed my life for the better,” Caity says. “I felt limited, but now I'm just like, ‘Oh, whatever. Just draw it! Go for it!’ ... I'm really excited about the things I'm going to make. Even searching for fabric, I mostly get them thrifted, like bedsheets or tablecloths.”
This has opened new avenues for Caity to shop as a little person. With new areas to explore, as well as new clothes to design, Caity feels confident and joyful when she shops, as opposed to feeling frustrated, knowing that she can bring her visions to life. Learning how to sew also means taking pre-existing clothing and tailoring it in a way that makes her feel good.
“So, it's like walking into the store, now I have new areas that I'm able to search and now it's just been a lot of fun,” she says with a smile. “So, that's been great and even fitting wise too. It was hard to find clothes that fit me, but now there are ways that I can make them fit me ... Fashion inclusivity with different body types is so important because I want people to like the feeling that I get when I make something for myself and it fits me is something that I want, like everybody to feel like, to have something on the rack that can bring them joy, that fits them.”
Being sustainable has allowed Caity to create one-of-a-kind outfits. These outfits even draw the attention of her friends and peers, who ask Caity if she can recreate these designs, which is impossible due to the nature of her outfits. Her technique allows for unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that give Caity a true sense of personal style that easily shows in her day-to-day life, in person and online. For sustainability, scraps and fabrics are carefully crafted from things such as pant hems, extra fabrics from designs, and thrifted clothing.
Caity points to what she is wearing, a zebra short sleeve top, and exclaims that she made it from a bean bag. Her creativity in finding different fabrics to use is so cool to see, especially seeing the way she pieces them together.
Caity’s overarching message and reasoning for creating her clothing is simple: confidence. While the fashion and beauty industry is changing to become more inclusive, there is still a lot of conversations to be had about what the future of fashion looks like. We continued to speak about fashion as a form of self-expression, and why it is so important that fashion as an art and a confidence booster should be accessible to everyone.
“I feel like it's important to just talk about accessible fashion and inclusivity,” Caity says. “Definitely now when I look at different brands, if I see more diverse body types, I'm like, ‘Oh, I want to buy from this company because they have different bodies and some that are the same as mine in different areas as well.’ So, I think it is really important in getting exposure and seeing more people that look like us. Another thing with exposure and seeing people, like with TikTok, I wasn't really exposed to many people with dwarfism [before] or who look like me, really, because there's, like, groups you can find in your communities. But nobody was really my age. When I was on TikTok, some other little person creators started following me...being able to see how they would wear certain clothing pieces or shoes.”
Finding different creators was key for Caity to start exploring herself within fashion. The community she has discovered has allowed her to find new ideas and try new things, which wouldn’t have happened if it weren't for the conversations and creators on TikTok.
“For example, I thought I couldn't ever wear a pair of Doc Martens because my legs kind of curved,” she says. “Then I saw another little person wearing Doc Martens and she had unlaced them a bit because I wear the little kid ones, my feet are pretty small, so they have only the zipper and that wasn't working. But I saw that she had unlaced them a bit. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what? I can do that.’ So, then I ordered a pair and now it works. I wouldn't have bought them if I didn't see her. It's so great to be able to see other people who look like me, too. I think [on] TikTok there's so many users and I feel like it's great just to see more body representation ... We're in this world all together and just kind of learning and taking bits of pieces from everybody and especially from the people who also have a similar body type to your own and probably some similar experiences as well.”
Not only are these communities showing each other what they can achieve, but also lifting each other up to find confidence in being able to try things that otherwise seemed impossible. There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of how we converse about these topics, as well as if we are even having these conversations at all. The overall hope is that with time, larger fashion companies will hear us, and realize the importance of these situations, as well as the urgency. Everyone, and every body, deserves to be seen, heard, and beautiful.
Conversations like these really highlight the importance of why inclusivity and representation for all body types is so important. Caity is on the rise to becoming a prominent influencer, a beacon of light for those who feel underrepresented.