From the West of Canada to South East England, across the continental United States and in maritime Southeast Asia – the Genderplayful team is as diverse in origin as in experience. Some of us, in fact, have little or no knowledge of fashion. What we do have is irrepressible excitement at the prospect of bringing the Genderplayful Marketplace to life!
Our vendor coordinator Zee, for instance, was originally at a loss as to how she could volunteer with Genderplayful. ‘Luckily,’ she adds, ‘my limited abilities at sponsor-wrangling for the burlesque shows that my partner and I co-produce translates remarkably well into vendor-wrangling for Genderplayful.’ Or there’s Angela – who shares space on the tech squad with Amber and Graeme – who thought of theirself as more of a consumer until they realised that they could also contribute as a code-wrangler!
It’s often not easy to find clothes that suit our gender expressions and presentations, our bodies, or our preferences. Among the most familiar requests, something that we on the team also want to see, is for masculine clothing fitted to female-assigned and female-coded body shapes.
An obvious solution is to convert existing clothing. Emily, our Tumblr curator, wears oversized dress shirts for their comfort and the convenience of ‘trousers-with-real-actual-pockets’ (say, why does commercial feminine-marketed clothing typically lack those useful pockets, anyway?), while Tweeter Samson exhorts looking in the ‘“wrong” stores and sections’ to mix-and-match articles of clothing.
That’s definitely a useful tip – ‘If you mismatch severely enough,’ Zee advises, ‘things go from “Zee can’t dress herself” to “Zee’s so edgy!” pretty darn quick!’ And both Zee and discussion moderator Freiya favour the scissors-and-needles style of clothing rehabilitation. One of Freiya’s favourite modifications is snipping at the neckline and sleeves of old T-shirts for a more scoop-necked look.
But that doesn’t solve a lot of underlying issues with the fashion industry. As our team points out, mass-produced clothing tends to deeply entrench the gender binary by controlling appearance, and its focus on low-cost manufacture is usually at the expense of workers’ right to equitable labour. In addition, Angela points out that even when designer collections start paying attention to androgynous and gender non-conforming styles like masculine skirts, such apparel is hardly available in stores – and if it is, you can forget about a realistic price tag!
An article I particularly like is s.e. smith’s ‘Constructing Beauty’. In it, ou describes the ridiculous standards of attractiveness to which we are held in society, especially in comparison to celebrities. You can never meet these standards, ou writes, because odds are you lack resources like ‘a tailor who hand-fits garments to your body (nor do you have access to designers who will custom-fit projects for you so you can look unique and distinctive)’. That’s not a fair situation, not at all; and this is where Genderplayful comes in.
The Genderplayful Marketplace is, above all, a community, like its predecessor, Genderfork. It’s a genderqueer-positive community. It’s meant to be a safer, comfortable place for people of all genders and body types. That means that all members of the community will get to offer unique, distinctive looks that don’t have to match the whims and prescriptions of the mass market.
‘We are not hangers, clothing racks, or Sims characters,’ says Angela, who is on the lookout for clothing which draws inspiration from offbeat sources like animal pelts, exoskeletons, and mediaeval armour.