As soon as I landed in Sydney, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Deb Saywell, who runs Shane Ave
(which does custom suiting), as well as The Unsuitable
Deb has been making custom suits for AFAB folks and people outside the gender binary for many years now, and she started the podcast when she realized how many untold stories there were of people using fashion as a way to find more alignment with their gender expression. She started the podcast in hopes that sharing the stories of the people who passed through her door would help others to understand the wide variety of experiences in our community.
Deb and I do a very similar thing- we help people feel good about their bodies and genders through clothing. Although she does it through super classy formal suits and I'm working with much smaller pieces of fabric, but these are both items of clothing with close ties to the way we want to be perceived in the world. Both the inner layer of underthings and the outer shell of formalwear cane mean the difference between dysphoria and feeling a pride and confidence in our bodies and ourselves.
Deb and I hit it off right away, especially since my spouse (Dibs of Dibs Fitness
, who does queer and trans personal training, check them out!) was the very person on Deb's podcast, five years ago! Dibs and I actually got to do out own interview about our relationship, which you can check out here
We got to talk shop as well, which was so exciting for me, since I rarely get to speak with other people in person who do custom clothing like I do. Deb even got me suited up with a lovely tailored shirt, just in time for the holidays!
In our interview, Deb and I talk about what it's like being non-binary, and how my transition goals have changed in the four-ish years since I started exploring my own gender. Having gender be a "journey and not a destination" is very real for me, and I haven't taken the same route as many people who opt for surgeries and other medical procedures.
We also talked about how building Origami went hand in hand with my own need for self- expression, and how I could learn to explore how to feel good in my own body through designing gender-affirming clothing for others. Ironically, it was only seven years into owning Origami Customs that I really felt trans enough (I know, I know!) to let myself try gender-affirming pieces on myself. I think I only wore a binder for the first time three years ago. Wild, right?
Going even deeper, we touch on how femininity is so linked to marketing, especially in the lingerie world, and how I felt a lot of internal pushback when I started marketing myself in a more androgynous way and using other feminine models.
In the podcast, you'll find hilights such as:
Let us know what you think in the comments!
- What it was like coming out to a Buddhist mom and Hippy dad. It was not the response I expected!
- How Origami Customs came to be- right from the roots on a tiny island in the Caribbean to a team of queer and trans sewists in Montreal.
- What "transition" means for me as an Enby, and finding the beauty in the "middle ground"
- The difference between medical and non-medical transition, and how I've decided to choose the gender affirmation procedures that work for me, even when that means getting seen as a woman more than I would like.
- How the narrative of being "born in the wrong body" doesn't work for me, and the fluidity that comes with trying on different gender expressions over time
- How I use my own fashion to express my gender, and how that comes across in my designs for OC
Does this remind you of your own exploration of gender? Do you find comfort in binary or medical transition options, or do you play around in the messy grey areas?
If you're a queer person and want to talk about your gender journey, make sure to get in touch with Deb
to be on the podcast!