Style » Fashion

Transcending the Suit Industry

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Dec 27, 2016

Indochino has opened the door for the transgender community when it comes to suiting, where finding the perfect fit presents challenges from multiple perspectives. Sonny Oram, founding editor of Qwear, offers insights to educate and inspire equal opportunity suiting for all.

EDGE: How would you describe some of the issues transgender people face when it comes to shopping and retail?

Sonny: First of all, there is discrimination when entering a clothing store. If we don't "pass" -
meaning people can tell we are trans - we face a lot of harassment when we go shopping. People tell us that we're in the wrong section, give us weird looks, sometimes don't let us in the dressing rooms or won't help us find the right things. I should also add that this type of discrimination applies to all gender nonconforming individuals, not just trans people.

Finding clothing that fits is a also a huge challenge. The average retailer is designing clothing with cis bodies in mind. Trans guys with chests and big hips have an extraordinarily difficult time finding button-ups that fit. We have to either get shirts that are too big in the shoulders or get clothing tailored. There are queer brands available, and we offer lots of solutions to these problems on Qwear, but the fact is that you can't just walk into any store and expect to find clothing that fits.

Another issue trans people face that isn't addressed often enough is that aside from the lucky few of us who were able to transition during childhood, we weren't raised learning how to dress ourselves. Many of our readers come to us at Qwear having no idea how to tie a tie or style their hair. These are things that cis people take for granted, because growing up their parents and friends taught them these things.

I had the privilege to meet with some trans women in their 50s and 60s who were mid-transition recently and found that they didn't have the slightest clue how to even begin shopping! They didn't even know what size they were in women's clothing or what styles would look good on them. Things like finding the right bra size were completely new to them, and if they entered the bra section of a women's store, they'd be looked at as a predator. It's absolutely heartbreaking what these brave women and nonbinary individuals go through simply to find clothes they feel comfortable in.

When we're kids, our parents (hopefully) provide us clothing appropriate for our gender identity. If they don't support our transition, we have to pay for them on our own. I didn't transition until I was a young adult, so I had to build a wardrobe from scratch.

It took me the longest time to get a proper suit. And given that the majority of trans people have employment discrimination, we don't have the most expansive budgets to spend on clothing.

EDGE: How do you see Indochino as a forerunner in this category?

Sonny: My experiences with Indochino thus far have been very trans-positive. I've known women who were fit for men's suits and treated very respectfully, and I recently went to get fitted myself and had a great time. The staff was respectful of my identity and worked hard to adjust the suit to fit my body.

I think Indochino is a great option for people on a budget who want a made-to-measure suit. The fit of a suit is really important. I, too, suffered from employment discrimination, but when I finally landed the position I'm in now, I had a suit that fit really well. All those little details, like arm length and shoulder width, make a difference, and Indochino will fit infinitely better than anything off the rack.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Senior Editor of Travel, Lifestyle, Health & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.


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