Out of Touch, the Great Fashion Reckoning

The past twelve months have already been rough for mass market and luxury fashion brands when it comes to cultural, ethnic and racial sensitivity. Business analysts and customers alike are left scratching their heads as to how some of these brands have managed to fail so epically. Where are the checks and balances typically in place at a company to ensure a Gucci black face turtleneck sweater or an H&M monkey shirt doesn’t make it to market? The narrative around fashion creation, especially at the luxury houses, is a process that is painstaking, thoughtful, intentional and thoroughly connected to the current zeitgeist. What’s more, it involves layers of product development teams, marketing and public relations teams and executives. So how does noose hoodie make it on the runway at Burberry?

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Rethinking UX, A Queer Perspective

For most fashion retail companies, the top of the web hierarchy is based on the female/male gender binary. Under each of those categories comes overall style categories like tops and bottoms. While some of these categories are the same for both women and men, it’s typical to see more gendered styles as well at this level, such as dresses. And already implicit in this breakdown is that women’s bottoms are different than men’s bottoms, both in style and size offerings. Ironically, it is possible that a unisex style may have to be uploaded onto a site twice, to appear in both, the womens and mens sections.

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Queer Ambition - Gender & Fashion

QueerCut is driven by a clear mission to promote, facilitate and engage brands and customers in radically inclusive commerce. That mission is achieved by creating authentic, one-on-one, individualized relationships that eschew traditional fashion retail standards and assumptions. Eliminating the male/female binary as the defining way that customers shop on QueerCut is key to this approach, ensuring a more personalized experience focused more on style expression and personalized fit. Recently, the three co-founders of Queer sat down with the hosts of the Queer Ambition podcast to share this mission and to discuss the intersection of gender and fashion in contemporary society.

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Queer Professional Representation

Creating a professional headshot for your business profile can also help to establish your visual identity and how you want to be perceived in the workplace. From a personal perspective, a headshot photo shoot can be an opportunity to explore your ideal professional attire, to consider what makes you most comfortable. For an employer, seeing a headshot prior to an in-person interview can communicate your authentic self, including your preferred gender identity and expression.

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Guest Post: Non-Binary Femme Fashion for the Male-Bodied

For people who identify as non-binary, or wake up identifying differently from one day to the next, traditional shopping can feel judgmental and anxiety-inducing. Having no choice much of the time but to shop in either womenswear or menswear sections, it’s quite common to face choices that may fit one’s gender presentation, but not one’s body—or vice versa. A standard misconception is that all non-binary people are on the androgynous side, but this simply isn’t true…as many retailers seem to believe. In other words, if jeans and hoodies can be gender neutral, skirts and lingerie should have the same morphing power.

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Part Five: Queer Fashion Series

It’s important to recognize that queer visibility and expression is easier in larger metropolitan areas, where there is more diversity in ethnicity and culture, as well as more open and liberal attitudes around gender and sexuality in general. The ease of individual expression in these locations also leads to less overall hegemony in dress, which ironically blurs the line between queer style and other style expressions, including the hippies of the past and hipster of today…

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Guest Post: Redefining Masculinity through the Merging of Mens and Womens Wear

Hegemonic Masculinity has proven a tough opponent for modern feminists, as it is both encompassing, vague, and a seemingly overpowering understanding of masculinity. However, there are certainly strong steps that can be taken to break down its power as an ideal. In this essay, the reasons that men do not typically wear womenswear in western nations will be explored through the lens of hegemonic masculinity and a historical understanding of the rise of modernity in and the continuing opposition of menswear and womenswear.

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Part Four: Queer Fashion Series

Identity is a multi-layered concept and hard to parse out completely, especially in its relationship to design. It’s rare, especially in an historical context, that fashion was made “queer,” especially for general consumption. Understandably, people do not want their work, or creativity, to be reduced to their sexuality.  However, something as innate as gender and sexuality likely has an effect on how one sees the world and how relates to those around them. This relationship is sure to have an effect on design, whether in a literal sense, or from an innate sensitivity to queer issues.

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Part Three: Queer Fashion Series

It should come as no surprise then, that minority groups also imbue clothing and accessories with meaning, often in subversion of symbologies accepted by the majority population. Not only do these queer style aesthetics provide a means of group identification, they also offer insight to how a person identifies or expresses their gender, especially when using masculine/feminine spectrum accepted by society in general.

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Guest Post: Cis Life: What Did You Call Me and Why?

Along with a huge rise in media visibility for transgendered people, there has of course come predictable pushback from people uncomfortable with the term, who claim it is yet another unnecessary label that serves to divide us, with some even insisting it’s offensive. There are those who believe the term promotes binaries of what it means to be male or female. However, others argue that if a person does not identify with their assigned gender or the transgender label, they can call themselves gender nonconforming, or non-binary.

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Part Two: Queer Fashion Series

Clothes are given meaning by the groups who wear them, in that clothes themselves don’t have any intrinsic value or meaning beyond their utility. These meanings develop and shift over time, and are largely facilitated by dominating social, religious and political influences. However, meanings are also applied to clothes by minority groups as well, including the queer community. In this sense, queer fashion has become distinctive on a whole, and within the even smaller tribes that exist in the community. Because of these meanings, clothing can become a method—a shorthand—to express a personal queer identity. And a sense of power and inclusion can be felt by the wearer when choosing to wear these queer styles—often because they challenge the status quo.  

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Part One: Queer Fashion Series

While queer style overlays with fashion trends in general, the queer community has historically adapted these trends to their own needs. While not as obvious, queer clothing can also be utilitarian, providing solutions to problems experienced primarily by queer people. And finally, clothes are given meaning by society in general, often with an intrinsic moral code built in. Queer people often must subvert or reject these meanings and find their own, often allowing for greater visibility, within subsets of the queer community.

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What Makes Me, an interview with Stray Daze

In the past year, Stray has built a following of over 7,500 followers on Instagram, with posts receiving hundreds of likes each, and garnering the attention of the fashion elite. Most recently, she was featured in InStyle magazine, an opportunity to share her story of style, queer identity and authenticity. In February 2018, Stray launched her blog as a way to “document the process behind how I throw things together, push myself to expand my wardrobe, take more fashion risks...and learn more about myself.” And it’s this mix of writing and imagery, open and personal, that resonates with her readers.

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Guest Post: Men and the Body Positive Movement

If you happen to be even a mild pseudo-observer of human culture, you know we have a long ass way to go along the body positivity road. We’re a strange bunch: it seems the ceaseless proliferation of sensationalized, sexualized, and pornographic content inundating us rather constantly has little if any positive effect on body positivity or sex positivity, and some might say it has the opposite effect. Regardless of the precise reasons so many people of all genders continue struggling not to hate on their bodies, it’s a reality, especially in this online era of hyper-representation.

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Sizing Up the Fashion Industry

Standardized sizing, as we know it today, started developing in the 1940s, after World War II. By this time, the middle classes were now shopping primarily at department stores, such as Macy’s or Gimbels in New York City and Selfridges in London. The concept of pret-a-porter (ready to wear) was emerging, in direct contrast to haute couture (made to measure).  Ready-to-wear was exactly that, clothes that were offered in standard sizes that could be tried on in a store, purchased and worn, all in one day!

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Part Five: Finding Success in Today's Retail Market

With all of the doom and gloom about the fashion retail industry, opportunity does exist. Any time a market goes through a disruption of this magnitude, it’s typically because it is long overdue. With the onslaught of new technologies, including Facebook (2016)and iPhone (2017), in the past years and the current advancement in Augmented and Virtual Realities (AR and VR), the stodgy industry of fashion hasn’t necessarily kept pace, particularly on the back-end.

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Part Four: Realities of Building a Fashion Brand

With the advent of online retailing, and the significant advancement of user-based tools now available, setting up an online store has never been so easy. Companies like Squarespace and Shopify have made it possible for a new brand to be up and running in one to two weeks, with sleek websites. Ten years ago, companies paid millions of dollars to develop the same platforms! What’s more, social media has made it possible to reach and communicate with customers globally, that was formerly impossible without the help of marketing and PR agencies. For a new brand, this access to market is exciting, and allows for new voices to be heard and recognized in a short amount of time.

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Meet the Founders: Corinne Phillips

“I was excited to be part of these early conversations. And becoming a part of of the QueerCut team was a natural progression in my career as an advocate for those struggling with authentic identity.” Corinne became a co-founder of QueerCut, taking on the responsibilities of Chief Technology Officer. “Creating a centralized place where those folks can find clothing that supports identity while supporting queer designers and queer specific brands, is the best of all worlds. It’s an opportunity for me to combine all of my life experiences and passion into one project!“

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