Whatever the case may be, as more cis and straight women have begun to wear suits, brands, both high- and low-end, jumped on the chance to make masculine-leaning silhouettes cut to the female body. What gets lost among this is the fact that suits have always been part of the queer wardrobe — a community that has long rejected fashion’s outdated ideas of the gender binary.
It’s for gender-nonconforming clients that many brands have been making suits for years now. As queer style continues to become mainstream, and co-opted by non-LGBTQ+ designers for profit, it’s important to acknowledge the brands owned or run by queer designers who have, from the start, created gender-neutral suits. In fact, many have founded their respective brands because there were no markets that catered to them at the time, with issues ranging from fit to an unwelcoming suit environment that can still have a boys’ club mentality.
With that in mind, ahead, queer brands that are offering suits, bespoke and ready-to-wear, for women, nonbinary customers, and anyone who’s ever felt left out from the traditional suiting industry.
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Offering bespoke suiting and separates, Emily Meyer founded the brand, available by appointment in San Francisco and New York, after discovering a gap in the market for personalized suits for women. The process to make a custom suit takes 10 to 12 weeks, which includes a consultation and measurement appointment and fitting.
Kirrin Finch — named after fictional tomboys The Famous Five
’s George Kirrin and To Kill a Mockingbird
’s Scout Finch — is a menswear-inspired brand designed to fit AFAB and nonbinary bodies. Brooklyn-based, Kirrin Finch is ethically made and uses sustainable materials, as well as gives back to the LGBTQ+ community.
Bindle & Keep
You might recognize suit maker Rae Angelo Tutera and the brand Bindle & Keep, where they work alongside owner Daniel Friedman, from HBO’s Suited documentary
. After finding the bespoke experience frustrating, Tutera, who is queer, paired with Friedman in 2012 to make Bindle & Keep a brand that specializes in making custom suits for all
bodies and LGBTQ+ clients.
Peau De Loup
What began for this brand as menswear-inspired apparel for women has turned into “androgynous-style clothing designed for all bodies with curves regardless of gender identity.” While it’s best known for its button-downs — particularly the Alpha which has an inner breast pocket — Peau De Loup also carries a Founders Suit collection
, a more casual line of suits that have stretch and are unlined for easy tailoring and custom fit. The brand also uses upcycled fabrics which is not only eco-friendly but also makes for limited-quantity prints that only a few customers have.
Another company that believes that suiting is for all gender identities, Sharpe Suiting was founded by Leon Wu, a transgender man. In addition to offering bespoke styles, the Los Angeles brand (that offers design sessions in several cities, and even virtually) has appeared on the runway for dapperQ’s September show
, a showcase of queer fashion, during New York Fashion Week.
Female-founded and women-run, Wildfang is a brand out of Portland. Founded by former Nike employees, it became known for its Wild Feminist collection
, worn by the likes of Janelle Monáe and Evan Rachel Wood, and The Empower Suit
. Available in sizes up to 20, the latter features functional pockets (which is rarer than one might think) and comes in upbeat colors and bold prints.
Also appearing on the dapperQ runway last September were designs by clothier Shane Ave. The Australia-based brand (that offers online options for made-to-measure suits) was created after its founder, Deb Saywell, noticed a hole in the market for formal suits for the LGBTQ+ community.
Thúy Custom Clothier
A Vietnamese-American designer, Thúy H. Nguyen makes bespoke suits for the LGBTQ community in the San Francisco Bay Area, with styles ranging from classic patterns to can’t-miss colors like silver and red. Another dapperQ alum, Thúy Custom Clothier showed its designs on the runway in 2018.