Photo by Chromat.
Happy Pride Month! This week, to celebrate our queer brothers, sisters, and thisters, we’re talking gender-affirming swimwear.
Gender-inclusive swimwear are swim garments that enhance more gender-neutral design features, like chest binders or compression shorts do. Swimwear that has a specific cut or compression makes it easier for individuals who identify as queer, nonbinary, or trans to feel a lot more comfortable in their own skin while going for a swim. Access to these types of garments is important because it allows those in the queer community who rely on specific aspects of gender-affirming clothing to feel more at home in their body, and inspires more comfort and confidence in their everyday.
This question of nonbinary swim leads into thinking of the types of design that could go into swimwear that could feel validating to someone who does not identify with gender, as it stands one of the few articles of clothing that still has the gender binary heavily intact. Most swimwear design is pretty cut-and-dry: women’s bikinis or men’s swim trunks. The division between swim design based on gender is pretty stark. Bizarre and frustrating as it is to think of clothing in this way, but facts are facts: there aren’t many fashionable swim options for our nonbinary pals.
Until there was! We’ve compiled a list of top class gender-affirming swimwear brands that have some fantastic design, dope style, and a great price tag to make this the best summer ever. These brands listed have managed to design themselves outside of the overarching swim standard, and advance the garment further into the present with their ingenuity.
Here are our resources for gender-inclusive summer 2023:
Tomboy X Swim
Tomboy Apparel is an old reliable when it comes to apparel for queer people and queer bodies. They’re always a safe bet for gender inclusive everyday apparel, activewear, and lingerie. The Tomboy X Swim collection is incredibly versatile, with plenty of garment types and fits for every kind of comfort. Compression tops, stylish unisuits, and shorts of varying length all make for some excellent summer staples.
Humankind gets an A+for their shopping experience for a few reasons. Firstly, they have some very fun prints. Secondly, they have a Swim Top Quiz to guide you to the type of swim top that “suits” you best (see what we did there?). Albeit a smaller brand, they’re doing some amazing design work, and deserve more praise.
Chromat has been spotted at many design awards in the past year, either for their fashion-forward swim designs, or their unapologetic approach to them. Featured at the MET recently, director Becca McCharen-Tran focuses on creating her garments for ALL bodies, no holds barred. Her most recent collection offers fabulous swim fashion for trans femmes and intersex bodies.
At a recent SCADstyle Conference, she said “As a designer, you choose who you cast, and that is a responsibility. And I think maybe some people are just fine with the status quo, but every choice is political, no matter which direction you go.” We’d all do good to keep our eyes on Chromat, they’re leading some real change in the rigidity of swimwear fashion.
Outplay is a great option for both swim and sport with gender-affirming rashguards, board shorts, and even leggings. Outplay’s garments also come in a wide variety of cuts, so you can feel free to choose whatever shape calls to you! Not to mention their pricing is pretty competitive - they have sales pretty often, so you can snag some choice swimwear without thinking too hard. Outplay’s mission includes a commitment to responsible sourcing, living worker’s wages, non-toxic dyes for print, and organic materials - another win for sustainable fashion!
Hirsuit is a line of genderless jumpsuits and swimsuits made with love in New York City. While the shape is pretty universal and singular, the suits are completely reversible and have hidden interior pockets along the side seams. There is no doubt that these suits are high-quality. Hirsuit is available in smaller quantities due to their careful sourcing and design process, so best to snag one when you see one.
Gender-inclusive swimwear is very much still in the background of the larger fashion world, and is definitely a place that passionate designers should take a crack at. Queerness is ever present in fashion. Despite a constant intrigue in androgynous clothing, it’s still a bit of an uphill battle to find design that is put forth specifically for queer bodies. Androgynous clothing and gender-affirming clothing are often put in the same basket, but aren’t necessarily the same thing. We hope to devote more blogs and resource-based fashion to our readers in the industry who want to design for queer bodies.
Join our conversation on Instagram @thisstylefiles and hop in with suggestions on what we can cover next!