Teen Vogue is celebrating Pride by highlighting the stories that matter to the LGBTQ community. See all our coverage here.
While today some brands are casting more queer people in their campaigns and runway shows, and all kinds of companies are jumping on the pride bandwagon (i.e. banks, candy corporations, restaurant chains!) we’re finding it hard to spend our dollars at companies that don’t support queer individuals all year round. Plus, though it’s great that queer people are getting more support and representation, which in turn is fostering more acceptance towards their communities, corporate efforts needs to go deeper than just ad campaigns and rainbow-colored products.
It’s time for more queer people to be put in positions of power and rooms where big decisions are being made, from the fashion industry to government and beyond. Scratch that, we’re long overdue for these kinds of shifts to occur. And this is exactly why we’re rounding up 10 queer-led fashion companies you should shop not just this pride month, but 365 days a year.
Automic Gold makes “radically wearable fine jewelry for everyone” — particularly for all sizes and all genders. Run by wives, Al Sandimirova and Jamie Kiera Ada, Al started the New York-based company because the, “majority of today's jewelry is designed by old men with big money, is marketed using skinny models with pale skin and is un-inclusive and un-diverse.” So, Al wanted to make jewelry more inclusive, accessible and honest. While the industry standard is to make rings in sizes 4 to 9, Automic Gold offers rings in sizes 2 to 16. They offer 14K dainty rings with small charms such as hearts and the word “no”, as well as earrings that say “they” and “them” in addition to simple studs and hoops. Their necklaces say things like “gay” and “dope, bold, sexy”. We can’t wait to stock up on all of their products once our next paycheck comes in.
Get your hands on Automic Gold here.
Started by 20-year-old Tazia Cira, XYST Ugli is a line of upcycled t-shirts. Tazia, who lives in Chicago, tell Teen Vogue that they started their company due to the “disgusting irony” of corporations who make “expensive tees that cost cents to create with fluffy empowering statements” which she believes typically cater to a very narrow set of people — those who are cishet, white, abled, and upper middle class — “all under the guise of feminism.” In this way, the designer sees making clothes as a “tiny method of protest” and a way to create spaces of inclusion and solidarity by creating items people feel empowered in. Their t-shirts, which are all decorated by them, are emblazoned with customizable phrases such as “ableism is not poetic”, “sustainable activism is nothing without self-care”, and “protect trans youth”.
Based in Chicago, Rebirth Garments is a line of gender non-conforming clothing for the full spectrum of gender, size and ability. The brand was started by interdisciplinary artist Sky Cubacub, a non-binary queer disabled Filipinx individual, after they experienced a chronic illness in college. “I make myself stretchy pants with soft waistbands, which accommodate my stomach pain as well as seams on the outside for my sensory sensitivities,” says the now 27 year old. Beyond this, Sky always dreamt of making gender affirming garments in high school when they could not access a chest binder. Under their “radically visible” fashion brand, they’re able to work with clients —the majority of which are disabled people, people with sensory sensitivities, transgender/ non-binary people, and fat/plus-sized people — on custom orders that specifically cater to their needs.“In the face of what society tells them to hide, my clients are unapologetic individuals who want to celebrate and highlight their bodies,” they say.
Radimo LA, an online retailer and community focused on queer products, was born out of founder Dan Owen’s frustration with seeing big brands like H&M, Zara, Forever21 producing gender-neutral collections. “Nothing about their campaigns or products felt gender-neutral and it felt so blatantly exploitative,” they tell Teen Vogue. “I already knew of so many queer & trans owned brands but they were smaller and didn't have the means to shoot a big genderqueer campaign.” The creative decided to bring these brands together — including FLAVNT Streetwear and makeup by Fluide Beauty — on one platform and make sure every item is presented on at least three different skin tones, body types, and gender presentations. In this way, Radimo LA is a truly gender-neutral and inclusive shopping experience. Dan hopes to also be a role model for other queer folks, particularly nonbinary kids who want to be entrepreneurs but don’t see many genderqueer CEOs around.
Based in Los Angeles, B. Anele is a trans-disciplinary and gender nonconforming artist who makes wearable art pieces that are slashed, sewn together, and painted with swirls, colorful fruits, smiley faces, and hearts. The artist often hosts fashion shows, which put their pieces in conversation with their peers, while showcasing models who are queer, non-binary, and POC — most recently, they participated in a group showcase by art collective meets restaurant Lil’ Deb’s Oasis in Brooklyn. All of their items are one-of-a-kind, including jumpsuits, a laced up top, all kinds of wide legged pants, and many more creations.
Are you on the hunt for a crafty look for a pride parade? Stand out from the crowd and grab one of B. Anele’s wearable art pieces.
Started by Rachel Berks, a queer woman who splits her time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn, Otherwild is a studio and retail store offering cool jewelry including vagina charm necklaces, fashion such as “gender is a drag” tees, and much more, in addition to serving as a gathering space that hosts workshops and events. “Otherwild has always aimed to give voice and space to queer and feminist-identified, as well as lesser-known or underrepresented, artists and designers,” says Rachel. Aiming to provide options for individuals whose choices fall outside of heteropatriarchal fashion and gender binaries, the creative is also the founder of newly launched androgynous swimwear and jumpsuit brand, Hirsuit. Rachel tells Teen Vogue, “I am a queer-identified woman running a queer brand, and the most important aspect of that, for me, is trying to always look holistically at what we are doing, and how we’re positioning ourselves within the crapitalist destruction machine.”
MI Legget is a non-binary artist behind the gender-free upcycled fashion label, Official Rebrand (OR?!). “With Official Rebrand, I hope to redefine what it means to be sustainable within the both fashion industry and the art world. I also promote a non-binary approach to life, by taking gendered clothing and transforming it into non-gendered clothing,” says the creative. “Official Rebrand is about fluidity, not rigidity. By rejecting the confines of gendered expectations, I aim to inspire limitless human potential, and encourage others to resist binary social constraints.” The brand carries a wide variety of pieces including screen printed or hand-drawn t-shirts and tank tops and elaborately painted coats. Accessibility is another concern of the creative, who believes everyone deserves to “celebrate gender-fluidity through self-expressive fashion” — due to this, MI offers custom drawings on pieces clients bring in themselves, starting at $10, and hosts free rebranding workshops to teach people their techniques.
Want to support a queer designer who also promotes sustainability? Get some Official Rebrand gear here.
Founded by queer creative Becca McCharen-Tran in 2016, who has a background in architecture and urban design, Chromat dubs itself as a “future-forward bodywear [brand] designed for strong, powerful #ChromatBABES”. Designing swimwear, lingerie, and sportier pieces for all sizes, Chromat has also become well-known for its body-diverse on the runway. Regarding queerness in the fashion industry, Becca tells Teen Vogue in 2018, “I love celebrating queerness with our queer community! The fashion industry is definitely gay friendly, but I'm always looking for more lesbians and queer and trans women of color in fashion. There aren't enough.” As a designer, Becca shared that celebrating inclusion in the fashion industry and within LGBTQIA community is important to her and the Chromat brand.
Looking for an swimsuit and want to support a queer designer who champions body-diversity? Chromat has officially got you covered.
Patrick Church, a Britsh creative who lives in New York, likes to blur the lines between art and fashion, by painting directly on vintage clothing. Offering ready-to-wear items such as doodled jean jackets and matching pants, leather jackets painted with cherries and other symbols and faces, fanny packs, and more, Patrick showcases his products with optimistic, queer imagery, artful fashion presentations, and inclusive casting. In 2018, the creative shared with Them. that his work is all “about love” while in 2019 he told Interview that many of his doodles are actually self-portraits.
Want to support a queer designer and dress like a work of art? Grab your favorite Patrick Church look here.
Founded by Pierre Davis and Arin Hayes, No Sesso was an art collective before it became a fashion brand in 2015. With a name that’s Italian for "no gender/sex”, the brand takes a community-driven, multidisciplinary approach to its practice with Pierre and Arin often constantly collaborating with friends on special projects — for example, they previously orchestrated a fashion performance at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, in which musician Kelsey Lu sang and played cello. Their clothes feature all kinds of prints, fabrics and deconstructed materials, often including hand-done embroidery. For autumn/winter 2019, some items they sent down the runway included a velour tracksuit, an orange snakeskin tube top, and a belt with a water bottle holder (perfect for hot summer days!), all of which we still can’t get enough of.