Fit is the bread and butter of the fashion industry. It's what makes or breaks an outfit. But it can get pretty complicated when you don't squarely fit into the men's or women's sections of a store. No one knows that better than queer and trans people.
Maxine Britt, an up-and-coming gender-neutral designer behind the brand, Mx Apparel, is styling this underserved community by creating androgynous silhouettes and sizing for all types of bodies. Actually speaking with queer and trans folk about what works and what doesn't, Britt is able to apply their design expertise in a way that gives everyone a safe space to express themselves creatively.
In our interview below, I got to ask Britt about the start of their brand, inclusivity, and their design aesthetic.
Q: What got you interested in fashion?
A: "I’ve always loved fashion-Project Runway taught me swear words and What Not to Wear gave me unrealistic expectations about how much color, pattern, texture and shine eight-year-olds should have in their outfits. In high school, getting dressed in the morning was a piece of control through hard days as an LGBT teen in Arizona."
Q: How did you found your own brand?
A: "My brand itself started when an opportunity arose to show a line of clothing in Twin Cities Fashion Week when I was a sophomore in college. I caught the eye of a fashion magazine and a Fashion Week founder, thus allowing me to build crucial relationships in the local fashion scene."
Q: What’s the significance behind the brand name, Mx Apparel?
A: "Mx Apparel comes from my name, Maxine, which I’ve always abbreviated as Mx since I was a kid, because why leave out the coolest letter? And second, Mx. is used as an honorific by people who prefer an alternative to Mr., Ms., etc."
Q: How do you ensure your clothing pieces are inclusive of all kinds of bodies? Are there any particular challenges that arise when making gender neutral clothes?
A: "I’m very intentional with the choices I make in terms of fit and design. Even though every person is unique in their goals, their gender, their body, taking a structured approach to gender neutrality gave me some great building blocks as a designer. Over time, I’ve kept ideas that worked, and I’m always refining my styles as needed.
Something people may not realize is that challenges of fitting different body types is not unique to gender neutral fashion and is a huge argument for throwing out gender as a way of breaking up clothing altogether. I’ve never met a single cisgender woman who fit every possible womenswear brand. These standards are all made up and end up harming queer and trans people, especially.
Plus sizing is a crucial part of my brand as well, and I am really proud of the feedback I’ve gotten from models and customers. People in fashion sometimes act like plus sizing is too difficult to even attempt, but that really isn’t true. It just takes effort."
Q: What inspires your designs?
A: "I’m always very inspired by music and music videos. I’m constantly on Pinterest putting “aesthetic” in all my searches to get cooler results. There’s models like @kitty.irl and @corwinofthrones on Instagram and other creative people who I follow that I am always blown away by. Basically anything with a strong concept and aesthetic direction I find inspiring. For my aesthetic specifically, I draw a lot from the ‘80s and ‘90s with clean color and edgy details."
To check out more from Maxine Britt and their brand, follow @mxappareldesign on Instagram.