Ode To My Suit – A Transmasc Perspective About Masculinity In Fashion

Words by Max Weiland

Fashion was and is a tool for self-expression. It can be an affirmation, it can represent belonging to a group of people, and even those who refuse to participate – are nevertheless making a statement.

As a transmasculine person, who is mostly assumed female, fashion is such an important part of who I am and how I express my identity. It is my greatest tool – and my biggest enemy. I remember buying my first suit in the men’s department. I remember the joy that I felt when I saw how the cut made my body look. Unfortunately, I also remember the store employee, who waited outside of the changing room to tell me: “this is not your place to buy clothes”.

I also believe that capturing gender euphoria in front of the camera and exploring different forms of masculinity by including different men in campaigns is a marketing goldmine. 

Max Weiland, co-founder of uns*

It is devastating to see the extent to which fashion is used as a tool to police our identities and remind us of how we are perceived by society. And it is not only store employees who do not recognise that part of their customer base might not be cis, skinny and able-bodied guys: whole brands refuse to acknowledge any form of masculinity that is outside of standardized manhood.

One of the big challenges after coming out was to understand what my own masculinity looks like and how I want to express my identity. The idea of toxic masculinity is still dominating the public image of men. Additionally, internalized homophobia doesn’t allow any “feminine qualities” – in regards to behavior and fashion

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I understand that a white* cis, skinny and able-bodied man wants to look at a suit and see himself. But so does everybody else. 

Max Weiland, co-founder of uns*

I started modeling about five years ago. My dream is to model for a brand that sells suits for men. Not only do I look absolutely stunning in suits, but I also believe that capturing gender euphoria in front of the camera and exploring different forms of masculinity by including different men in campaigns is a marketing goldmine. However, as a realist, I know that this won’t happen – not before I transition in a way that people cannot distinguish me from a cis man anymore. 

The issue within the fashion and advertising industry is that it created a female and male standard, which represents the most privileged amongst us and excludes marginalized people. I understand that a white* cis, skinny and able-bodied man wants to look at a suit and see himself. But so does everybody else. I wish that instead of working ourselves off of that one norm, the industry would look at the people buying their products and allow them to be present in the campaigns. We would be able to show you what elegance, joy and gender euphoria look like. Because yes, it is just a suit, but in the end it can tell you a story of belonging, love and affirmation.

Max Weiland (they/he) is a model, speaker and co-founder of uns*, the first exclusive LGBTQIA+ model and talent agency in Germany.

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