SXstyle: Queer Fashion

The visual activism of dressing how you feel

“To transcend fashion, we must transcend beauty.”

Queer fashion is dawning on a renaissance, but it’s not all “androgynous” joggers and a-line tees. It’s much more complex and at the root of SXSW’s first ever queer style panel, Queer Style: Visual Activism and Fashion’s Frontier.

Sharpe Suiting CEO Leon Wu (photo by Jana Birchum)

Spearheaded by the masculine-of-center fashion blog dapperQ, Friday afternoon’s SXStyle panel featured four front-runners in LGBTQ style, including Anita Dolce Vita – dapperQ’s owner, creative director, and editor-in-chief. Founding editor of Qwear, Sonny Oram (quoted above), Sharpe Suiting CEO Leon Wu, and Autostraddle’s beauty editor and Fit for a Femme blogger, Aja Aguirre rounded out the four panelists.

As Dolce Vita pointed out, in more than 25 states butch lesbians can still be fired for not dressing more feminine – one of many facts that not only makes fashion political, but rooted in visual activism.

Right now it seems that (mainstream) fashion’s 2016 statement is all about gender neutral clothing. Whether it’s Zara’s gender neutral sweat pants line – which Aguirre says will make her “run away into the woods,” or what Wu refers to as the diamond shape (tapered in the shoulder and feet, loose in the midsection), unisex style seems to be everywhere. While that’s a step towards creating fashion free from archetypal fashion rules, not all of it is progressive.

Founding editor of Qwear, Sonny Oram (photo by Jana Birchum)

“The Gender Binary isn’t always bad,” says Wu who designs suits for the increasingly popular Sharpe Suiting (Carol screenwriter, Phyllis Nagy, wore one of its suits to last month’s Oscars). “The thing is, masculine and feminine should be style choices one makes every day.”

Oram notes that it’s not just the clothing that makes queer fashion. It’s the models and even the ideology behind it. “I can tell based on the size diversity of the models if the fashion line cares [about queer politics].”

Queer Style: Visual Activism and Fashion’s Frontier

Friday, March 11, Westin Austin Downtown

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

SXSW: Virtual Reality Porn
SXSW: Virtual Reality Porn
Needless to say, there was a line to try it out

Ashley Moreno, March 19, 2016

Talking Bullshit With Nell Scovell
Talking Bullshit With Nell Scovell
Muppets writer on buzzwords and the uphill battle for women in comedy

Jen Sorensen, March 16, 2016

More by Sarah Marloff
<i>An Army of Women</i> Tells the Story of a Criminal Justice Crusade in Austin
An Army of Women Tells the Story of a Criminal Justice Crusade in Austin
Julie Lunde Lillesæter shines a light on the women who made Austin a better place for rape survivors

March 8, 2024

City Acknowledges Its Debt to Sexual Assault Survivors
City Acknowledges Its Debt to Sexual Assault Survivors
Seen and heard

Feb. 4, 2022


SXstyle, SXSW, SXSW Interactive 2016, DapperQ, Sonny Oram, Leon Wu, Anita Dolce Vita, Aja Aguirre

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle