This piece appears as part of our initiative on Identity & Representation, a six-month-long project highlighting different facets of identity and how they shape the practices, conventions, and conversations happening in the Highsnobiety world. Head here for the full series.

Bradley Carbone started his career at Complex, and has worked for places like adidas, Starworks, and legendary skate tome SNEEZE magazine (where he’s a partner). He’s currently splitting his time between consulting for brands like BornXRaised, HRS, Reebok, and Kappa and working on SNEEZE.

I have worked in the sneaker/menswear/hype/brand/whatever-we-call-it-next industry for 15 years. I started by taking pictures of sneakers for Complex and moved through the ranks, working at adidas and an agency before starting my own. I have continuously been a part of SNEEZE magazine, which celebrated 10 years in December.

Five-and-a-half years ago, when I was 31, I broke my neck snowboarding. I paralyzed myself with a C4-C5 complete injury. It took me out of the feedback loop, forced me to reassess most things, and I began the hard work of getting back to life. While my taste evolves as I get older, I still like good design and admire the people who make it happen.

I use a motorized wheelchair and other equipment, so there is a lot more “gear” than normal that comes with my ongoing recovery. Here are a few things that help me keep it together.

Permobil F5 Corpus VS

permobil

I am paralyzed from the neck, so I need a motorized wheelchair to get around. This chair goes up to 7 mph (8 if you know a guy), allows me to stand up, and I’m realizing it comes in gold — pretty sure that’s new. Gold is pretty sick. “Larry Flynt of Streetwear.”

See more here.

Nike Air Force 1 Low “NYC Editions: Procell”

Nike

I can’t use my hands and I have limited use of my arms – someone has to dress me every morning. This means hightops have to wait until the scientists learn how to give me the heart of a dog. Thankfully Air Force Ones are low tops. There’s not a better, more New York sneaker, and my favorite pair right now is the one that Procell did. Not walking keeps them fresh.

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Apple iOS “Catalina” Voice Control

I’ve used a program called Dragon Dictate for five years. Voice controlled software allows me to work, straight up. Apple will be introducing similar software with the release of its new iOS, a move that will knock Dragon Dictate out of the Mac ecosystem but (hopefully) replace it with a superior product. That a gigantic company like Apple gives attention to people that need help makes me cry a little bit. It also makes me want to get my act together and help others as so many helped me when I needed it.

Stone Island Nylon Metal Pant

Stone Island

An assistant dresses me every morning – I can’t. I find clothing that is easy to get on and off — elastic waistbands, side zippers, stretchy fabrics, etc. When I first got injured, sweatpants were cool, but as I grow up I have been lucky to find these pants by Stone Island, which elevate that concept. Nylon Metal is one of the coolest materials I’ve seen, so I buy a pair of these whenever I see a new version (and can afford it).

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Dining with Dignity Silverware and Metal Straw

Dining with Dignity was created by a guy with a similar impediment to mine. Instead of taping and splinting a fork to his hand, he worked with occupational therapists to develop silverware that can be used if your hands don’t work. I also bring a metal straw everywhere because 1. It’s way hard for me to drink from a normal cup and 2. Everybody needs to stop dumping plastic in the ocean. If you need encouraging watch this – but maybe not the whole thing.

See more here.

Made-to-measure Tailoring by Ermenegildo Zegna

I’m fortunate to have friends across the industry who help me access special things. A year ago, I was custom fitted for suiting, shirts, and denim at Zegna. The tailors came to my apartment and designed clothing for me that fit specifically to the wheelchair — each piece is proportioned for sitting, and there are hidden zippers so that I can dress and undress easily.

A big part of the disabled narrative is retaining dignity. Zegna made clothing that helps me look good and be comfortable with who I am now. A big hug to the tailors that made it happen, and if anybody out there has a way to make this more accessible for others, hit me up let’s do it.

See more here.

Words by Bradley Carbone
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