Every Pride Month, my inbox fills up with a range of brands showcasing special collections and collaborations in support of LGBTQ+ people. While it's undoubtedly heartening to see some of the biggest brands in the business celebrate and advocate for the community with rainbow-emblazoned merch, it's also of paramount importance to shine a spotlight on those rising queer designers that treat every month like Pride Month with their unapologetically authentic ethos.
With diversity flourishing across the industry, this crop of inspiring gender-fluid and queer-identifying designers is at the pulse of pushing the (sometimes archaic-feeling) fashion business forward. That's right. These innovative labels aren't afraid to push genderless silhouettes as we continue to gain a deeper understanding of gender identity and sexuality, are at the forefront of embracing representation on the runway and in campaigns, and use design as a way of expression to create change and spark conversation. In other words, they're the ones consistently on my radar—and often stocked in my closet.
Ahead, I'm bringing you my favorite labels that I believe reflect what fashion should look like today—inclusive, expressive, and personal—which, in essence, is the spirit and beauty behind my Pride Month.
If you were to ask a fashion person to name the brands that push all boundaries as a champion for diversity, Chromat would undoubtedly be at the top of that list. Inclusivity in all forms has always been at the center of designer Becca McCharen-Tran’s line. You see this everywhere from the size-inclusive pieces to the actual people featured on the runway—which are often not only models but activists and leaders of change.
Known for flipping “the fashion show” on its head with his popular runway-turned-concert shows, Telfar Clemens, a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner, marches to the beat of his own drum with collections that spark conversation around race, gender, and class.
Designed to “invoke thought and emotion,” this gender-free L.A.-based label by Stoney Michelli and Uzo Ejikeme celebrates the “nonconforming and bold at heart” with a line of cool streetwear favorites and everyday pieces. Yes, I’m talking graphic hoodies, joggers, blouses, and hats you’ll want to live in.
Designer Sander Lak's debut collection for Sies Marjan hit just three years ago, but the fashion universe’s growing obsession would make it seem like the line’s been around for decades. His brilliant use of color—everything from pastels to iridescents—combined with his sharp design style anchors the line, and his diverse model offerings make the brand particularly unique.
The Phluid Project
Challenging the idea that fashion should be separated by gender, innovator Rob Smith truly is the future of retail after launching the first gender-inclusive store in the world with The Phluid Project. Aside from stocking a private label, along with other brands that are gender-fluid, the store itself also acts as a safe space and community center for anyone to be themselves. I’m consistently inspired by this must-wear, must-visit brand.
When it comes to originality, Esther Gauntlett and Jenny Cheng reign supreme with their line of dresses and other separates emblazoned with kitschy patterns. With representation at the forefront of their collections and shows, this buzzing duo will continue to have a lasting influence on the industry. Guaranteed.
Together in life, Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez launched TomboyX to fill a gap in the market for those looking for underwear that works no matter where you fall on the size or gender spectrum. The result? An inspiring and celebrated line of all things basics for literally everyone.