Striving for inclusivity: The future of fashion is genderless and queer

By Kimberly Kapela, Copy Editor

Ruth Johnson


Lingerie encourages individuals to step outside their comfort zone by adorning their bodies in a way that is unique and empowering.

Most mainstream fashion upholds the gender binary, but for gender nonconforming individuals, it can be difficult to find fashionable garments and lingerie that are both comfortable and accommodating to their identity.

Sexy underwear is not made exclusively for women. While many underwear brands strive for inclusivity, many do not take into consideration trans and nonbinary needs by not offering wide size ranges.

Emma Alamo, a self-taught leatherworker, is the chief executive and designer behind Emma Alamo. They launched their brand in 2016 in hopes of deconstructing current binary fashion and creating genderless and femme-centric garments.

Alamo sells beginner kink-friendly bondage harnesses for restraints, strap-on harnesses, cuffs and accessories.

“My main focus for my business is making stuff for all body sizes and all gender expressions and not charging extra for custom sizing,” Alamo said.

The store carries XS through 4X and also provides custom sizing options, so there is no limit on sizes made. Alamo said it is fun to create solutions for people who have not been able to find harnesses that function properly while looking “hot in leather.”

“Something that is really bothersome to me is that a lot of places don’t sell sexy garments in plus size or don’t offer sexy garments for trans people, disabled people, people with custom sizing needs,” Alamo said. “It sort of perpetuates this idea that sexiness exists in the form of a skinny, shaved white woman.”

Rae Hill, chief executive of Origami Customs, makes customized lines of swimwear and lingerie for all genders, specializing in gender-affirming products and body-affirming gear, including binders and packing bottoms.

Origami Customs now offers binders with side open styles so people can put them on with ease. The binders are also disability and sensory-friendly.

“We’re always trying to innovate and develop new techniques that are making things more accessible to people,” Hill said. “It was always really important for me to try to incorporate [disability friendly] into the designs, especially with our binders.”

The core to Hill’s work is the belief that the inclusivity of all genders, bodies and abilities should be reflected in body-affirming products.

Hill said there are many opportunities for people to look outside of the binary of lingerie.

“When people can’t afford to buy gender-affirming lingerie, we work with a global network of nongovernmental organizations that send those products to the organizations – TransHealth, Point of Pride, THRIVE Gender Development Program – and then distribute them for free in their communities,” Hill said. “It was always important that the price not be a barrier and people can access the garments that are life saving.”

Sky Cubacub, founder of Rebirth Garments, created a custom-made clothing brand that offers gender nonconforming wearables and accessories centering nonbinary, trans and disabled queer individuals of all sizes.

Cubacub did not have access to gender affirming undergarments in high school and wanted options to make them feel sensual. They were unsatisfied with the “boring” black and white options, and wanted to create designs for queer, disabled and neurodivergent people.

“I wanted to celebrate the intersection of art and the intersections of our identities as multiple marginalized folks who make a clothing line that celebrated all of us, rather than just part of ourselves,” Cubacub said.

Rebirth challenges standards that are sizeist, ableist and conform to the binary, while honoring the Radical Visibility movement, whose roots are in reclaiming one’s bodies through bright colors and luxurious fabrics.

“I’m more interested in people getting to just completely de-gender every kind of garment so everybody can wear [whatever] garment they want, but also having options available for compression or padding that is gender-affirming,” Cubacub said. “I just want things to be celebratory.”

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of the Chronicle’s annual Sex Issue which was published mid-February.