Traditionally, the gender binary has been an essential part of lingerie, but it’s 2021 and making “underthings” that are only for two genders is a thing of the past. The community of out genderqueer and non-binary people is growing, which means the demand for more inclusive items is too. We’ve interviewed three lingerie brands to investigate what products they’ve created to be more inclusive to genderqueer/non-binary people. Yes, just in time for Valentine’s Day!
What does lingerie beyond the binary even mean?
Lingerie beyond the binary looks different depending on who you ask—to both customers and the brands supplying them. Rae Hill, founder of Origami Customs, believes that lingerie beyond the binary emphasizes gender affirming products.
“The idea of unisex garments calls to mind drab, boxy shapes, and styles which hide the unique beauty of a body. Our gender-affirming styles aren’t made to hide. We want people to feel comfortable throwing on their favorite pieces of lingerie because they love how they feel in them, not just because they serve a function. Gender isn’t one size fits all. We want to expand the continuum of expression, not lump everyone together in a baggy t-shirt dress.”
Origami Customs is one of the only lingerie brands making gender affirming “underthings” (a term I picked up from Rae) custom fit to each body with no extra charge.
“We don’t believe in the ‘fat tax’ or up-charging for larger sizes. We’ve always included free alterations, including those for size, access, and gender-affirming modifications. This truly means that any piece you see can be made for any body.”
Since gender isn’t defined by the clothes somebody wears, gender affirming items don’t need to be boring or geared towards androgyny.
“Sometimes I feel like trying to assign a gender to something like a piece of clothing is tricky,” said Kathleen Tarrant, communications manager for TomboyX, “because clothing doesn’t have gender, the folks who wear it do.”
Yatch Club- TomboyX
“Sometimes I feel like trying to assign a gender to something like a piece of clothing is tricky, because clothing doesn’t have gender, the folks who wear it do.”
TomboyX, a brand well-known in the queer community, focuses on making items that anyone can wear regardless of their gender identity or presentation. Their approach to lingerie beyond the binary is to create undergarments that are comfortable, underthings that you can breathe in.
“Comfort and gender expression should really be together at all times,” Tarrant says.
What products have these brands made that are inclusive for different gender identities?
Since gender identity and presentation are so diverse, the best way to figure out what people want is to look at sales.
Origami Customs started off as primarily a swimwear line, providing gender affirming features like the ability to tuck or compress. Swimwear is still one of their main items, but they’ve expanded more to create lingerie collections, including their new launch set for Valentine’s Day, Ruby.