From Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover debut this past summer as a trans woman to the disappointing defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) Act just last month, trans issues are ever so slowly emerging into mainstream awareness from otherwise marginalized conversation. FLAVNT Streetwear (pronounced "flaunt") is one such company helping to bring trans identity to the forefront of modern fashion and they're making waves with their latest endeavor: the Bareskin Top, swimwear specially made for the trans community.
Chris Rhodes, FLAVNT's co-founder, spoke with Romper about his personal experience with chest dysphoria that inspired the creation of the Bareskin Top as a transmasculine swim binder:
I live in Texas and I love to tan and spend time in the water but I don't want to wear something bulky or oversized. There are a handful of swim binders on the market but they're all like rash guards or wet suits and aren't comfortable. They bother the wearer, because it's obvious you're wearing this big clunky top to hide something. So Courtney (Rhodes, FLAVNT's other co-founder) and I had this brilliant idea to make a sleek skin colored top. And we just sat there and questioned why this didn't exist yet. Skin colored binders just make sense. Not only for swimming but for undershirts, sex, and wearing tank tops. The idea is to make the top as "invisible" as possible which allows the wearer to pass and feel comfortable, safe, and confident.
Courtney expanded on how the Bareskin Top is more than just swimwear—and how it has the potential to be an empowering piece of fashion for the trans community:
One particular customer shared their excitement surrounding the opportunities of wearing this top on the bedroom. Seeing a binder can be triggering for a transguy while getting intimate; if you have something more subtle binding your chest, you can stay in the mood much easier. We loved that this person made this point because it's something that Chris had expressed as a benefit for the Bareskin Top that people may not realize but will be very helpful.
FLAVNT is one of several companies out there creating products for trans individuals with their needs and experiences in mind. Here are five other trans-friendly companies that are all about inclusivity.
THINX Introduces Period Underwear For Trans Men
THINX, a Kickstarted-backed startup co-founded by a pair of identical twins and their friend, is determined to make "the week" sexy again with their innovative moisture-wicking period underwear. After their successful product line launch in 2013, they realized that their market wasn't exclusively women. In a blog post from this past May, they wrote:
Over the past few months, we have received countless messages from the transgender community. We have received gentle reminders that women aren’t the only ones with periods... We often forget that in the case of a female to male transition, periods don’t stop coming every month.
In November, THINX released their first product tailored for trans men in a vibrant campaign with trans model Sawyer DeVuyst.
ModCloth's First Transgender Model
ModCloth may have gotten its start in a college dorm room, but this fashion company has exploded into a beloved destination for unique designs from independent designers. In April, ModCloth introduced their first transgender model: Rye Silverman, a stand-up comedian, writer, and self-described gender rebel. In an interview with the company, Silverman proudly proclaimed: “5 years ago today, I came out of the closet. Today, these are the clothes that came out of my closet.”
& Other Stories Groundbreaking Trans Fashion Campaign
& Other Stories, an international fashion retailer based in Sweden, is a sister-store to and owned by H&M. In August, & Other Stories released a revolutionary fashion campaign — not only featuring trans models Valentijn De Hingh and Hari Nefstylist, & Other Stories took inclusion even further by bringing in a transgender stylist and photographers to help shape the shoot as well.
Eva App Gives Trans Community A New Voice
Since 2000, speech pathologist Kathe Perez has been working with transgender men and women to train their voices to live their lives as comfortably as possible. Perez recently launched Eva, the Exceptional Voice App, for both Android and iOS. Eva comes in two forms, one for male-to-female and another for female-to-male individuals. Each app comes with specially designed voice training lessons to help trans individuals become more comfortable in their own voice or tune their vocal affectations to their self-identified gender.
Contour Corsets Helps Trans Individuals Look & Feel Like Themselves
Contour Corsets is a trans woman-owned business, where owner Fran Blanche helps trans individuals like her feel beautiful in their own bodies. In a June interview with The Lingerie Addict, Blanche notes: "I cater to everyone, and the array of work represents the spectrum of the community. People of all genders and social strata come to me for designs, and every customer has their own needs and goals."