From countless articles mapping the rise of androgynous models to the influx of highly visible gender-neutral clothing to celebrities challenging gender-based expectations through fashion, the queering of the fashion industry is a phenomenon that parallels the rapid acceptance of the LGBT community by mainstream society.
But the question remains: what happens to fashion brands that proudly call themselves queer? That is, brands that go beyond the fashion industry’s recent fascination with androgynous gender presentation and create both clothing and space for a multitude of identities across the spectrum of sexual preference and gender identity.
dapperQ is one fashion brand and blog that describes itself as queer and is attempting to start a conversation amongst queer fashion designers.
“I protested fashion until I realized it was my greatest tool,” Deeba Zivari,the brand ambassador for dapperQ, told The Huffington Post last week.
This week will mark dapperQ’s third NYFW presentation at The Brooklyn Museum ― they launched in 2013 with a multi-brand, interactive queer style event (un)Heeled pegged to the museum’s Killer Heels exhibit.
The 2016 show, which presents outside of the traditional structure of New York Fashion week, is called iD and will showcase the work of eight design houses.
To dapperQ, conventional fashion brands and magazines, which have capitalized on the trend of “queering fashion,” don’t accurately reflect the full spectrum of queer experience.
“Queer style is not a trend. It is an intrinsic part of our culture and identities and deserves on-going space at the fashion table,” dapperQ Owner and iD Executive Producer Anita Dolce Vita told The Huffington Post. “If gender fluidity is marketed as a legitimate way of existing and not just as a disposable trend, I support the mainstream industry advancing equality in fashion, so long as the original creators and thought leaders are properly credited and compensated.”
Dolce Vita sees radical potential in the fashion world to not only fight for and preserve notions of self-expression within the LGBT community, but contribute to the ongoing fight for social justice.
“Queer style is one of the most fashionable forms of resistance and is a powerful tool in our fight for liberation,” Dolce Vita added.
Zivari echoed these sentiments when it came to her own personal journey with style and her queer identity.
“It was the exercise of style that gave me the gift of using material other than words to communicate my inside-outside world,” she told HuffPost. “The confidence to stand for myself, the access to community, the feeling of home, the integrity to tell the truth, and welcome the truth.”
Dolce Vita told HuffPost that one of the foundational goals of dapperQ and its annual show is recognizing the importance of maintaining agency over the aesthetics and ideas that the LGBT community pioneered.
“These mediums and communities are reshaping conversations around gender, size, race, ethnicity, ableism, and more,” said Dolce Vita. “The mainstream fashion industry is taking note of how powerful and influential these communities are, but it is really important that the queer community play a prominent role in presenting and discussing our ideas. Fashion is political and style is not just a trend.”
“iD” will take place at The Brooklyn Museum will take place on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. Head here for more information and check out a list of participating designers and photos of their work below.
Participating iD designers:
Angie Chuang by Angie Chuang
Stuzo Clothing by Stoney Michelli & Uzo Ejikeme
The Tailory by Shao Yang
Thomas Thomas by SJ Weston
We Are Mortals by Anji Becker