Image by Soraya Zaman

Fashion

5 Queer Designers on Navigating Fashion and Identity

The designers reflect on their formative fashion lessons and balancing creativity with commercial viability.

It's no secret that fashion can be both notoriously competitive and an elitist space. Despite the ever-increasing presence of top fashion schools, and new brands across the world, the stakes are higher and opportunities are increasingly low.

The window to success is even narrower for marginalized folks looking to bring in their own creative vision. The standards of beauty within fashion have remained embarrassingly rigid and outdated for over decades and although change is afoot, it's painfully slow. But as our understanding of gender and sexuality widens, young queer designers today face a unique set of challenges in establishing their identities.

Ahead, we spoke to five dynamic young queer designers on navigating fashion and staying true to their identities.

Al Sandimirova, Founder, Automic Gold

What inspired you to pursue design and establish your label?

AI: I grew up very poor — couldn't-afford-to-buy-food-or-toilet-paper poor. Fashion has always been a way to escape for me, to dream about a better time, and to show my status by how much creativity I have, rather than resources. I remember making clothes as a teenager from old school uniforms, combining femininity and masculinity in my special way, which made me comfortable and confident.

Courtesy of Automic Gold