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Play Out Apparel is the Gender Free Fashion Brand of the Future

By Edmund Green Langdell

I was born into a world full of systems that will have to change within my lifetime for humans to survive. For me, and other members of generation z, knowing this shape how we engage with the world.

We must exist in a way that brings about the future that will allow us and our descendants to live. 

How my Play Out career began

I love fashion! And I love it when clothes are comfortable, functional, expressive, and joyful!

I decided to go to fashion design school to pursue my love of design and the art of expressing oneself through clothing.

However, it is extremely important to me that the work I do not harm humans or the environment. Throughout my time at Parsons, as I learned more about the fashion industry, I began to lose hope that I would be able to find a job in fashion that met my moral requirements.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, and it perpetuates the gender binary and harmful standards of beauty that I do not support. And then I found my way into the Play Out Apparel family! 

Play Out Apparel is conscious of its environmental impact. If all companies did what they can to minimize the effect that their products have on the environment, without losing the quality of the product, that would greatly reduce the damage that the industry does to the environment. It would move the industry in the direction of eco-conscious production while our technology is catching up to create truly environmentally friendly products.

Play Out Apparel is doing this. Play Out considers the environmental impact of the fabrics used in their clothing, and they choose the fabric that will have a lesser environmental impact without losing the quality of the product. They also work closely with the factory in Mexico that makes their clothes, and the trims on their garments come from materials that the factory has leftover from other products and brands. 

Play Out Apparel is also conscious of its social impact. The way people understand gender is changing and opening to include a wider variety of human experiences.

Trans people are becoming accepted into society in new ways. Now is a moment in time when scholars and historians are unpacking the complex history of gender.

People are learning that the gender binary, the idea that there are only two distinct, opposite genders, is a cultural construction created by white scientists in the nineteenth century as a means of showing the supposed superiority of Western civilization at being the only culture able to uphold sexual dichotomy. (To learn more about this, read The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century, by Kyla Schuller, and follow Alokvmenon.)

The fashion industry perpetuates the gender binary in powerful ways by dividing clothes by gender. As a trans person, it is especially hard to find clothing that fits my body, looks good, and is comfortable, although I realize this is a problem not unique to the trans community.

I believe that the future of fashion is gender-free. As people’s understanding of gender broadens and becomes less rigid, people begin to buy clothes based on their style preference, not simply by gender. And realizing that people of many genders can enjoy the same garment is a step in the direction of naturalizing freedom of expression.

This freedom of expression is only going to grow over time. Play Out Apparel creates clothes that are not separated by gender, rather by style. All genders can enjoy their garments, and find styles that fit their bodies, look fun, and are so comfortable!

Working with Play Out Apparel is inspiring for me, especially because of the community engagement and connectedness they have with their customers and other organizations that are doing similarly uplifting work.

The conversations that happen behind the scenes are not just about “How do we get this specific demographic to buy our clothes?” but rather “What are the values of our company and how can we be true to them?” and “How are we engaging with the community in positive, truthful ways?”

Interactions with the brands audience

Play Out Apparel has Instagram lives on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, talking with activists, artists, and more who are doing powerful work to bring education, joy, and healing to the world in a variety of ways.

The conversations that Play Out engages with are important and spread awareness about a wide variety of issues and human experiences.

Many fashion brands that want to show that their clothes are available to people of a variety of genders use transgender celebrities as models.

There is nothing wrong with trans celebrities but having the only trans models you use to be easily recognizable, famous people shows that the focus of that photoshoot is more about using the celebrity status of the trans person to gain diversity points, rather than genuinely engaging with the community.

This limits the diversity of trans experiences that people are exposed to because audiences are seeing the same celebrities over and over.

Play Out Apparel takes a different approach. Play Out’s models are not ultra-famous and have a wide variety of gender identities and expressions. Scrolling through Play Out’s Instagram is a beautiful display of the diversity of human expression. 

How Play Out Apparel changed my life

I am also so grateful to Play Out Apparel for allowing me to share my knowledge and skills. I do gender education work and Play Out has given me a platform to share my knowledge and ideas and encourages me to do so. 

And if all this was not enough, a wonderful perk of working with Play Out Apparel is the free underwear I got for modeling for them!

Play Out Apparel underwear is the most comfortable underwear I have ever worn in my life! It is so soft! The styles all feel validating and fun, and they fit my trans body. I wear Play Out Apparel underwear every day now and could not be happier about it!

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