How 9 Queer Designers Show Off Their Pride

Keep an eye on these stylish trailblazers.

<p>Courtesy of Rolly Robinson/Sebastian Milano/Ashley S. McLean/ Sophia Michelen/ Arius photos.</p>

Courtesy of Rolly Robinson/Sebastian Milano/Ashley S. McLean/ Sophia Michelen/ Arius photos.

LGBTQ+ communities and fashion have always been integral to one another. Fashion creates the ability to craft one's identity to how one sees fit, and LGBTQ+ individuals excel at pushing the boundaries of personal expression through clothing and accessories. And while LGBTQ+ acceptance has improved through the decades, there are countless designers in the community whose work and contributions often go overlooked, especially once Pride Month comes to an end.

As such, we're spotlighting the emerging queer designers of today who prove that showing off one's Pride goes far beyond just a parade. From diversifying the makeup of luxury brands to creating TikTok-viral sensations and breaking traditional gender roles, these nine emerging designers are reshaping how to show off LGBTQ+ Pride.

Bach Mai

<p>Courtesy of Sophia Michelen</p>

Courtesy of Sophia Michelen

Born and raised in Houston to Vietnamese immigrant parents and trained by John Galliano in Paris, designer Bach Mai has never shied away from being himself. "I display my Pride by being unapologetically myself every single day. My taking up space as a queer Asian man of color and size is my declaration of that Pride," Mai says. "It's a celebration of having the power to release ourselves from the shackles of shame and social stigma and to embrace and celebrate our authentic selves."

This celebration of confidence translates into Mai's ultra-feminine and meticulously crafted fashions that veer more toward works of art than typical frocks. His designs have earned the small, independent designer a diverse fanbase of Southern socialites, Carrie Bradshaw lookalikes, and rappers like Megan Thee Stallion.

When asked why people should support independent designers during Pride Month and beyond, he says, "Pride is about self-expression, individuality, and authenticity. Nothing embodies this more than finding a small, independent designer whose unique voice and expression connects to you."

Dori Hazan

<p>Courtesy of Sebastian Milano</p>

Courtesy of Sebastian Milano

Creative Director of Italian shoe brand Sebastian Milano, Dori Hazan believes that queer culture has always been about "pushing boundaries, reimagining and reshaping what is considered to be the social norms." This is why he wants to ensure that the brand doesn't get bogged down by stuffy notions of who, or rather what, gender can wear fabulously feminine pieces.

"As a luxury brand, inclusivity is a fundamental value, and it's a principle captured in our slogan, 'fem for all,' he says. Inspiration for the brand's latest campaign and its larger size offerings came from his friend Judy, who, as a drag performer, found it impossible to find shoes in their size.

With gorgeous heels inspired by Grace Jones, pumps adorned with plumped "Dada" lips, and showgirl-worthy stilettos, Hazan's designs aren't just made for women; they're made for people who have plenty of personality and want to have it on full display. What Hazan considers the perfect show to show off your Pride in? "Your highest heels and nothing else!"

Fang Guo

<p>Courtesy of FANG</p>

Courtesy of FANG

For designer Fang Guo, having Pride means "myself, having an authentic point of view, and embracing creativity; it’s about not succumbing to heteronormative ways of thinking and living." When it comes to his eponymously named knitwear brand, FANG, "Pride isn't just about corporate Pride Month in June," he says. "It's an age-old story: trends emerge from underrepresented and marginalized communities, become publicized and monetized by corporations, and then widely adopted." But in Guo's opinion, "It should be displayed authentically 24/7, 365 days a year."

Indeed, with seductive offerings of barely-there tops, tie-dye bodysuits, and a newly launched capsule collection with the hookup app Sniffies, it's clear that Guo wants the people who wear the brand to live a fully realized life unburdened by fears of hiding their personal identity. "Pride is about genuinely displaying personality and authenticity, often through fashion for me specifically. For example, if I feel like wearing a dress today—regardless of what strangers on the subway might think or look at me—I will do it!"

Francesca Farago

<p>Courtesy of Francesca Farago</p>

Courtesy of Francesca Farago

While Canadian-born model, social media mogul, and business owner Francesca Farago may have found initial fame during her stint on the Netflix series Too Hot to Handle, offscreen, she has found professional success with her inclusive swimwear line, Farago the Label. More importantly, she's proudly living her authentic self with who she chooses to love. Over the last couple of years, Farago and her partner, Jesse Sullivan, have openly shared their journey as a queer couple, including Sullivan's transition, documenting their path to parenthood (they recently shared a pregnancy announcement).

"As I'm expecting twins, this Pride is a special time for me," Farago says. "It is extremely important, especially in today's climate, there are many anti-queer movements going on in America," she says. "Because of this, it is so important to publicly and unapologetically show support for our community."

Gunnar Deatherage

<p>Courtesy of Gunnar Deatherage</p>

Courtesy of Gunnar Deatherage

Garnering millions of views is all in a day's work for viral design sensation Gunnar Deatherage. Beloved on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and almost every other social media platform for his decadent DIY sewing videos, the Project Runway alum breaks down how he creates jaw-dropping fashions, On camera, he's recreated the rainbow dress from The Hunger Games and Fleur Delacour's blue uniform from Harry Potter, looks that lean into the escapism and nostalgic fantasy queer communities love.

Deatherage's roots play a big part in his over-the-top designs. "I am from the South, and the tiny town I grew up in wasn't the most inviting to anyone different or flamboyant," he says. "So Pride as an adult in a huge and inclusive city has always been a celebratory month for me to reflect on where I came from, and a reminder to always pursue my creative endeavors, and be as weird and unique as I possibly can."

How he plans to celebrate his first New York City Pride? "[With] a vintage pair of western boots, short cutoff shorts, a huge belt buckle, and some witty tight T-shirt with a large cowboy hat," he says. "There's something about a cowboy..."

Kelsey Randall

<p>Courtesy of Arius photos</p>

Courtesy of Arius photos

Kelsey Randall is a queer designer who wears many hats—both figuratively and literally. Born in the conservative South, Randall's designs cheekily rift on the over-the-top, dare we say, drag-like, country-rock aesthetic. "My lifestyle and brand are super queer, so my Pride is always on display," Randall says. "The people I collaborate with are predominately queer, and being married to another woman with tons of LGBTQ+ friends—my life is just gay."

Her custom leather pieces, embellished vintage-inspired apparel, and rhinestone-encrusted cowboy hats have garnered her a cult following with fans like Lil Nas X, Julia Fox, and Lainey Wilson. "All across our country and the world, the rights and livelihood of queer people are still under attack," Randall says when asked why Pride matters to her. "It's so important that people be loud and proud about their support for the LGBTQ+ community and be a voice for people who are being threatened. "

Kingsley Gbadegesin

<p>Courtesy of K.NGSLEY</p>

Courtesy of K.NGSLEY

Through figure-forming knits, sensual silhouettes, and head-turning hemlines, Nigerian-American and New York-based designer Kingsley Gbadegesin aims to reclaim and redefine how the Black, queer, femme body is viewed in society. With his brand K.NGSLEY. Gbadegesin says, "Our Pride is always on display—it's in the core and intention of what we do."

Unapologetically provocative, the brand exists to serve these communities, using Gbadegesin's designs as a catalyst for conversation on gender presentation. He believes that this thought-provoking approach to design is an innate part of being queer in the fashion industry. "Fashion has long been influenced by queer culture, as many of the iconic creative directors [of] yesterday and today are the girls" he says. "They have used [their queerness] to champion and break gender norms advocating for diversity and inclusivity."

Nicole Zizi

<p>Courtesy of Ashley S. McLean</p>

Courtesy of Ashley S. McLean

After leaving her hometown in Broward County, Florida, and studying at Parson's School of Design in New York, Nicole Zizi set out to push the boundaries on both gender and sustainability. When it comes to Pride Month, Zizi says that "it's a moment to honor those who came before us and paved the way for others in the community to have an easier path in this world, as well as a great opportunity to be in the community."

Through her namesake label, Nicole Zizi Studio, the Haitian-American designer's work combines a chic, cool factor with gender-free silhouettes. The brand's mission is to uplift communities and minimize its environmental impact. While her brand continues to grow and find success, Zizi believes in championing others. "During Pride Month, I recommend shopping within the community," Ziz says. "Supporting independent designers also promotes equity within the community, which is crucial for our survival and allows us to maintain our creative independence."

Rolly Robínson

<p>Courtesy of Rolly Robinson</p>

Courtesy of Rolly Robinson

Founder and creative director of jewelry brand Isshī, Rolly Robinson believes fashion mirrors life and culture in general—a perfect way to display one's Pride. "Pride is a multifaceted and complex concept, and [my Pride] is based on my life experiences and what I’ve learned thus far about myself and the world I’ve chosen to create," they say. "My purpose is to share and spread beauty in any form, and it’s quite literally what I do for a living."

That beauty takes form in whimsically designed jewelry—from baroque pearls to glassy orbs—that evoke the fantasy of far-off adventures, magical moments, and rebellion. Their creations have been seen on Bella Hadid and in And Just Like That.

"One of my favorite Isshī styles is the Desnuda necklace, which translates to nude in Spanish. The idea behind is that you never have to take it off—it’s meant to be lived in," Robinson says. "For so many queer people, our skin is the hardest to live in because of the outside forces that don’t treat, love, care, or even see us at all, or the way they should. It’s a super simple style in the Isshī library, but the message behind it is relatable and has meaning." 

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