- October 11 is National Coming Out Day in the United States.
- Some companies try to create a more inclusive environment by catering products to the LGBTQ community and contributing to advocacy groups.
- These five apparel companies are paving the way for LGBTQ equality, and are worthy of support on National Coming Out Day.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Friday is National Coming Out Day, a day when we celebrate LGBTQ people and their decisions to come out to themselves, their families, and their communities.
But despite the increased visibility of LGBTQ people, basic necessities such as job stability, safety, and housing are still a large concern for many members of the community.
As of now, the US federal government does not have a mandated policy protecting LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination. With unemployment rates disproportionately high for LGBTQ people – especially among transgender and gender-nonconforming people – this kind of discrimination and fear of unemployment can prevent people in the community from living authentically and feeling safe to be out at work.
But some companies have taken it upon themselves to close these gaps, whether it be through hiring practices, catering products toward LGBTQ people, or contributing resources to advocacy organisations.
Here is a list of five apparel companies who are paving the way for queer equity, and that you should consider supporting today or any other day of the year.
GC2B is a ‘gender-affirming apparel company’ that specialises in binders for people experiencing gender dysphoria.
GC2B, founded by Marli Washington, is “proud to be the very first gender-affirming apparel company that is trans-owned and -operated,” according to its website.
GC2B specialises in binders, pieces of clothing made of spandex and nylon that flatten the chest. Often, people purchase binders as a more effective alternative to other forms of compression gear, such as sports bras, when they are dealing with gender dysphoria.
Washington told Business Insider that he created the company in 2014 during his junior year of college when he was dealing with his own dysphoria, after evaluating the lack of binding gear options available to him.
“I would put it on and it would be OK for a little while, and then I would just start feeling more and more self-conscious about myself, and then I just figured that I could definitely design something better, so I took the time to do that,” Washington said.
Since then, GC2B has rapidly grown into an internationally recognised company – with its Instagram page boasting over 146,000 followers. Washington said that its large following speaks to the larger need for transmasculine representation.
“I think beyond providing a product, we kind of created like the biggest platform for transmasculine or masculine-of-centre folks to be able to see other people like them because, before our Instagram account, there really weren’t any super huge accounts on any social media platforms that had accounts that looked like you or me,” Washington said.
“I think that it’s good for people to see that, and it’s good for people to know that they’re not the only ones struggling with their feelings, and that there’s an actual company that exists and runs solely just to help them. And that’s our main goal and there’s nothing else.”
GC2B’s products come in a variety of inclusive colours and a wide size range in order to cater to all body types and skin tones. Washington said he also soon hopes to expand the company’s products to cater to a more transfeminine audience.
In addition to the products GC2B sells, Washington said the company has set altruism goals for itself to help support marginalised groups within the LGBTQ community. GC2B partners with a number of organisations nationwide to help give back to the LGBTQ community by donating used binders and giving a large portion of its proceeds to advocacy groups.
Washington said that ultimately it’s important for consumers to support LGBTQ businesses in order to build up a strong foundation for the community.
“The dollar is a strong thing, and I think it’s important to continue to support people in your own community and to let those communities build themselves up by building strong foundations and businesses,” Washington said.
Stuzo Clothing provides gender-neutral clothing to a wide audience, including celebrities like Lena Waithe and Ruby Rose.
Stuzo Clothing is a Los Angeles-based company that sells gender-neutral clothing. It was created in 2010 by Stoney Michelli and Uzo Ejikeme.
According to its website, Stuzo Clothing’s mission is “to create a space in the fashion world where all are welcome without judgment.”
Selling everything from face masks to hats, Stuzo Clothing appeals to a wide audience and has even been worn by celebrities like Ruby Rose, Lena Waithe, and Gina Yashere.
Wildfang makes gender-neutral clothing accessible to a broader audience.
Wildfang was founded in 2013 by CEO Emma Mcilroy as a company dedicated to making tomboy fashion more accessible to people across the globe. Mcilroy told Business Insider that the company is inherently LGBTQ-inclusive in its mission because of the style it caters to.
“The queer community has been part of our DNA since day one,” Mcilroy said. “Tomboy style or menswear-inspired fashion wasn’t invented by Wildfang – the queer community owned it long before us. We just help make it accessible.”
Wildfang sells everything from blazers to button-ups to accessories, all in a wide array of patterns and large size ranges. In addition to the products Wildfang sells, Mcilroy said the company takes its LGBTQ-inclusive mission to heart in its company culture and practices.
“We have a diverse team, diverse models, diverse community, and diverse marketing,” Mcilroy said. “We start every meeting with our pronouns, we have models who identify all over the spectrum, and we’ve given tens of thousands of dollars to queer-focused charities.”
Mcilroy said that Wildfang’s goal is to provide a space for women and non-binary people to break societal rules placed upon them.
“We exist to break those rules,” Mcilroy said.
TomboyX began as an underwear company that expanded into an entire line of products dedicated to catering to LGBTQ people everywhere — from clothing to fragrances.
Married couple Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez said the inspiration to found their company, TomboyX, in 2015 was the lack of clothing options for women and gender non-conforming people. After their initial Kickstarter campaign garnered a great deal of support, Dunaway said that she and Gonzalez realised they had the opportunity to create a brand in response to this need.
“We decided to do a Kickstarter campaign and picked the name Tomboy because it was cute,” Dunaway said. “We identified as tomboys and we thought it was a nice nod that we were wanting what you could find in menswear and not in women’s wear,” Dunaway said.
The next step was building a brand and making Tomboy a full-time project, not just “a side job in our one-car garage,” Dunaway said, adding that “we had a real opportunity and almost a responsibility because it was our community.”
The company went on to create the first boxer briefs for women at the time, and began focusing on developing size-inclusive products to fit all of its customers. TomboyX also added apparel, accessories, and a gender-neutral fragrance line to its inventory.
Dunaway said the ultimate goal of the company is to create a better world where people can be themselves.
“We want people to feel good about being unapologetically who they are, all day, every day,” Dunaway said.
Otherwild is a Los Angeles-based boutique curating different products by queer designers for all to see.
Otherwild, a Los Angeles-based boutique, was created by Marisa Suárez-Orozco and Rachel Berk in 2012 to serve a variety of creators and artisans. Acting as a retail space, design studio, and gathering space, Otherwild sells clothing, art, and forms of self-care goods such as lotions and soaps, in addition to hosting workshops and community events.
Splinter News wrote that “Otherwild caters to the outsiders, the ones who are out-of-the-box and living life by their own rules. It’s a place where feminism and LGBTQ pride is celebrated, not side-eyed.”
Berk told Splinter that the importance of focusing on queer, lesbian, and transgender women in the space comes from her own identity as a queer person and her desire to make space for her community.
“It’s me being unapologetic, and also feeling like, as a queer woman, as an outsider in some ways, to make sure that I’m including a lot of different kinds of people when I think about what I’m putting out into the world. My community is the queer community,” Berk said. “It’s expansive and intersectional.”
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