A Kansas City entrepreneur hopes to bring both style and dignity to an underserved market segment with a line of undergarments for transgender men and women.
But for Peregrine Honig, founder of new label All is Fair in Love and Wear, the decision to create a collection of fashions for “the transcending community” came from the heart, not from her own experience.
Honig is the owner of Kansas City lingerie store Birdies, part of the city’s thriving artisanal boutique scene. But she’s also a well-known artist whose work frequently deals with issues of sexual identity and personal transformation. Her exposure to the Midwest’s emerging transgender population (and witnessing the struggles of a transgender friend) has given her a heightened empathy for people in transition, and last year she created a multi-tone TG flag as part of a one-woman gallery exhibition.
Still, she knows she’s entering the transgender apparel market as something of an outsider.
“It’s a sensitive thing to be a cisgender woman offering up these garments that wouldn’t be in my wardrobe,” she told Lingerie Talk. “Pretending that I know exactly what transitioning people are going through would be unfair, but know I’m coming from the right place so I really hope it’s successful.”
All Is Fair debuted last week with a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital for its first collection of unique binders, contour garments and body modification pieces. And so far, so good: with nearly four weeks left in the campaign, AIF has already raised more than a third of its $23,000 funding goal.
“People all over the world cross the gender divide and they deserve to reframe and reform without limitation,” the company says in its crowdfunding video pitch, vowing to create styles that are “as attractive as the people who wear them.”
“We are addressing the challenges of a population determined to appear in public as they feel in private,” it adds. “Everybody wants to dress as they see themselves.”
“I’m trying to build a brand that’s inclusive and progressive,” Honig said. “My goal is to have a have a higher-quality version of things that are not available online, and also to de-fetishize some garments that are first layers for transgender people.”
Peregrine Honig by Landon Vonderschmidt
All Is Fair‘s debut range includes four binder patterns (that’s the ‘Boy Friday’ style in the photo above) in five sizes and two colors. It will eventually offer products for the F2M (female-to-male) transgender community as well as the M2F population, including cinchers, packers, tuckers and loungewear and daywear options for non-binary individuals. The AIF crowdfunding campaign also includes some cool incentives, such as an AIF medallion (below), T-shirt and the chance to have a portrait painted by Honig.
Products will be available through an online shop, and All Is Fair plans to open a design studio in the refurbished Bauer Machine Works retail hub in Kansas City, not far from the Birdies lingerie store. The first delivery of garments is expected in December.
The AIF studio space, which is slated to open in November, will be used to host guest artists and educational seminars on issues affecting the TG community, including “etiquette classes” for men and women who are transitioning but unfamiliar with the TG scene.
Honig admits that owning an indie lingerie store for 12+ years helped prepare her for the launch of AIF, but she also found some expert help nearby.
Her longtime seamstress, Miranda Treas, contacted her aunt Laura who worked for Missouri-based Contour MD, America’s leading producer of post-surgical compression garments, and asked her to help create patterns for the first All Is Fair collection.
A lot of compression garments favored by the TG community are made of materials similar to those used in medical applications, Honig said, but they are “not attractive and very industrial … like slightly flexible drywall.”
To bring a contemporary fashion sensibility to All Is Fair‘s products, she then reached out to Brooklyn designer Rachel Rector, who runs the lingerie label RR Lingerie, known for its color-blocked mesh underwear and clothing styles.
Rector moved to Kansas City for a month to work on the AIF debut and, while there, produced a capsule collection of new lingerie styles that closed the annual West 18th Street Fashion Show.
Honig said she thought about creating a TG fashion line for a year and a half and then “one morning woke up in a cold sweat thinking about it.”
While Kansas City seems far removed from the alt-lifestyle hubs of New York and San Francisco, it has a growing population of people struggling with gender transition and the discrimination, social isolation and violence that often goes along with it. Last month alone, two trans women were murdered in the city, Honig said.
“I moved here from San Francisco with a similar ‘flyover’ feeling, expecting fields of wheat,” she said. “But it’s a sophisticated city with and incredibly strong arts community, a healthy LGBT community and an emerging transgender community.
“If you’re from a small Midwestern town, this is the big city. For lot of younger people who are looking for a more accepting location but still want to be close to family, Kansas City has that community.”
The surging popularity of transgender celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and Andreja Pejic has made it “both harder and easier” to introduce a TG label in 2015, she noted.
“It’s easier, because people have a better understanding of it. But it’s harder because it makes it look like I’m taking advantage of people who are often underconsidered.”
Honig hopes to use All Is Fair to collaborate with KC CARE — the second oldest community health center in the U.S. — to create a ‘safe space’ support group for newly transitioning people. Through Birdies, she is also partnering with the clinic to create a ‘KC Care Package’ that includes basic supplies for transgender people leaving the foster care system.
“I’m not targeting them for their money, let’s put it that way,” Honig said.
“I’m doing this because I think I’m supposed to … and because nobody else has,” she said. “It really is a human issue, not a gender issue or a sexual issue. I think I come at this as a human being.”
NOTE: Images below show more styles from the Rachel Rector X All Is Fair in Love and Wear collab for the West 18th Street Fashion Show. You can find these pieces for sale on Rachel’s website.