I met andogynous model Rain Dove and enterpreneur Abby Sugar at last month’s Queer Fashion Week. I was immediately struck by the important work they were doing—breaking down gender stereotypes, and taking the world by storm in their different ways.
Then came this! Challenging normative assumptions of gender presentation, femininity and what it means to be “sexy,” Abby Sugar and her wife Sylvie Lardeux are the masterminds behind the gender-less underwear brand PLAY OUT. Check out their powerful body-positive photo series featuring three bilaterally flat breast cancer survivors having undergone double mastectomies without reconstruction, as well as a short film featuring leading androgynous model Rain Dove in a stirring, gender-blurred kiss.
From Abby Sugar, Co-Founder & Designer, PLAY OUT:
“We were initially inspired to do the photo series with FlatTopper Pride after our friend Emily shared photos of herself on Facebook, on vacation, topless and flat. These were very powerful, strong images, and even though we knew Emily as a dear friend, we didn’t know how much she went through daily as a breast cancer survivor. Not only that, but as a person who stood out against society’s expectations of feminine beauty and the dominant narrative of reconstruction after mastectomy. We wanted to help her not only show that you can be yourself, no matter your gender presentation, but get the word out about FlatTopper Pride, a space for LGBT people dealing with breast cancer and breast removal to find support. Emily, Jodi, and Melly all have unique stories about their treatments and their experiences post-mastectomies. Emily brought Jodi in to tell her story, and introduced us (Play Out) to Melly here on the East Coast. We were extremely inspired by all of them.
Our mission is to dress PEOPLE in underwear. Whether you identify as a specific gender or don’t, you should be able to wear clothes that let you feel great and express who you are. Doing the film shoot with Rain Dove and pushing the boundaries further with how gender is expressed or perceived, is another extension of that. Director Thorsten Roth was really able to envision our message and bring it to reality here – it doesn’t matter what gender the couple kissing is. Being true to yourself, wearing what makes you feel good – fun, sexy, happy – is the most important.”
Rain Dove is a “GENDER CAPITALIST representing “human” thru fashion, film, & activism. An andro supermodel, actor, activist breaking the binary gender laws & being simply… A human. An andogynous model rocking film, fashion and fucking cake…”
Rain Dove turned plenty of heads at New York’s Fashion Week as she walked the runway in both menswear and womenswear, but the strikingly handsome 6-foot-2 model doesn’t really care what you think she has between her legs. “The gender thing doesn’t exist; it’s a social construct you don’t have to fit into,” Dove told BuzzFeed News.
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PLAY OUT is a line of boxer-brief-style and trunk-style underwear marked by a comfortable fit, high quality fabric, one-of-a-kind graphic prints and bold colorways – all made in the USA. Pointing to their androgynous and gender-inclusive styling, the brand has had people of all gender presentations and identifications wear both styles of underwear; the only difference is that the trunk style is slightly longer and has extra fabric in the front so that they are able to offer underwear for every body type. Dissatisfied with the styles and colors available on the market, the founders of Play Out Underwear wanted to create an alternative to the pastel, lacy and flowery panties and to make underwear with colors and graphics to appeal to all genders. They have received tremendous support from the lesbian, gay and transgender community and want to push the boundaries of the androgynous aesthetic – by bringing it into the mainstream underwear spotlight.