The Uncloseted Project: Shifting Fashion One Brand at a Time
Words By Zheka Chyzhykova
Happy Pride, everyone! Our magazine may be starting off in July, but we never forget the importance of June as the Pride Month—a month dedicated to LGBTQ+ awareness, acceptance, and celebration.
To give a brief history, June 1969 was the time of the Stonewall Riots which were spontaneous and violent protests of the members of the gay community against the police raid in Manhattan, New York. It was the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement and fight for LGBTQ+ rights, which started in the US and inspired the whole world.
However, even in 2020, the LGBTQ+ community still experiences daily discrimination. The community lacks rights in seventy-one countries. In fact, same-sex marriage is only allowed in 29 countries. While many may deny and demoralize the community, we must not neglect its importance and impact on our society. The community breaks the binarity in our society around gender and people’s roles, and it puts femininity and masculinity on a spectrum.
Particularly in the creative industries, many artists and brands begin to portray themselves in a “non-conforming” manner. In this way, the mainstream culture draws attention to the inaccuracy of the current gender and LGBTQ+ stereotypes that need to be forgotten.
Fashion is one of the biggest markets that can change societal norms. Because personal style is a self-expression tool, it is important to have a wide range of clothing choices for any gender and sexuality. Seeing the importance of this, some fashion brands started focusing on unisex and gender-neutral clothing. This allows for people to find their fit and preferred designs without worrying about the “gender” of the clothes.
When I was looking at big unisex and LGBTQ+ brands (Uniqlo, some Dollskill sections, and Phluid to name a few), I saw a common theme: the clothes were either completely plain and monochrome or extremely extravagant and alternative. Looking at these pieces made me feel that even wearing unisex pieces is somewhat a visual act of “rebellion” against the mainstream fashion, as such a piece can immediately be spotted. At that moment, I was inspired to create a fashion brand that would be the perfect middle for unisex and LGBTQ+ clothes.
I talked to my two friends, Josh Wyld (Australia) and Pabi Nchoba (South Africa), and after some thinking, the “Uncloseted Project” was created. “Uncloseted Project” is a youth-led gender-neutral clothing brand with an online platform focusing on raising awareness on the LGBTQ+ youth around the world. The designs are a perfect mix of daring and humble, sometimes with graphic prints on the issues of the LGBTQ+.
The main idea of the project is to portray fashion as activism and part of a movement. Our dream is to shift the idea of unisex clothing from being “non-conforming” to the new norm. With the variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, we believe the clothes can truly be worn by the majority. Moreover, for our online presence, we conduct interviews with the LGBTQ+ youth around the world who allow us to share resources and opinions. It is a safe space for everyone to share their struggles. The first line will be out this August, whose release will be announced on our website and our Instagram page at @unclosetedproject! Check us out to stay updated and informed.
JULY 1, 2020
All images courtesy of The Uncloseted Project