In this Wednesday’s Rainbow Talk, we’ll be looking at the groundbreaking trans fashion designer Gogo Graham’s work.
Based in New York, the 27-year-old designer has had her work featured at numerous iterations of New York Fashion Week. When designer Marco Morante caught the attention by exclusively featuring trans models in his show at this year’s NYFW, he was really only building on foundations laid by Graham, who has been casting exclusively trans models in her shows for years.
What makes Gogo Graham’s work different and sought-after is the fact that she decides to cast models that do not fit the mould that traditional runway models are based on. For instance, Graham often uses models that vary widely in race, age and size, sharing one common trait – all are people of trans experience, and most are women. In addition, Graham doesn’t mass produce the clothes she designs, instead opting to sell and even give away the one-off pieces featured in her shows.
Graham’s eponymous fashion line was born from a need to produce clothing that people of trans experience can wear with comfort, over and over again. Graham often designs specific pieces with specific models in mind, which makes each piece from her various collections absolutely unique, available as custom pieces or on loan for editorials.
Speaking to The Cut, Graham says that the rationale behind her decision to start designing for trans women was a decision which came from her own experience in looking for clothes made for trans women, explaining, “I just wanted to make clothes for people of trans experience because I felt like that was something I had difficulty with.”
In an interview with i-D, Graham elaborates on why she decided to break away from traditional runway models in her shows. “It’s always been like ‘here’s what trans models are’ and they’re gonna be the ones to tell you what that is, and you just have to swallow it. That’s not okay. So we thought, ‘Who’re some cool girls we know?’, and emailing our friends. I was practically throwing boots at their window. Trying, in a very direct way, to be like ‘this is exactly what we’re doing’. Trans girls wearing stuff that they like. Stuff that is photographed by trans girls and is simply unlike anything that’s already available to us. We don’t have options in fashion. We have to just look for stuff, and that stuff isn’t made for us.”
“This time more than any other time I’ve been focused on seeing if I can make a collection that the models who are wearing it actually feel themselves in. I realized that I know how to hide things and accentuate things because I do that for myself, so I could easily do that for other girls too. It was really amazing because I would like talk to them and show them something I made and everyone was excited by it.”
To listen to our full discussion about Gogo Graham’s work, tune into Rainbow Talk on GaySA Radio between 12:00 and 15:00 CAT on Wednesday, 10 October.