Carmen Liu hopes to see her products in more shops so transwomen don't have to buy underwear online and be secretive about it!
Carmen Liu, a designer from London has unveiled the first ever lingerie collection designed specifically for transwomen, reports Huff Post. She launched the label, named GI Collection after she realized that options for transwomen like herself were limited. Until recently, the only available options of lingerie was a 'gaff' underwear which Liu describes as being “reminiscent of Borat’s mankini”. A gaff is usually made from swimwear fabric and commercial elastic and is used to tuck genitalia in, but it is not always the most comfortable thing and it certainly doesn't feel 'sexy'.
“Underwear is a basic need for everyone, it’s something that you put on every morning. If you go into a shop on the high street and can’t buy products for you, you just feel really undesired and unaccepted,” the 27-year-old designer said. Carmen, who was tired of feeling undesired and unaccepted, decided to take matters into her own hand and that's when she launched the lingerie line, designed specifically for transwomen.
Carmen Liu's lingerie collection is a part of Liu’s GI collection, which is an online shop as well as a community that helps transgender people who need help with their transitioning, like advice on what their rights are to help them with makeup and other such products. “You’re in a vulnerable position when you transition and people do know this and unfortunately, they do take advantage of that,” says Liu.
She also spoke about how hard it was for her to find information while she was transitioning four years ago. “So making these women aware of what their rights are, what is available to them and where they should buy their products so they’re not being extorted financially is the aim," she added. Liu’s underwear is designed to be delicate, feminine and sexy', with prices starting at $20, and it gives transwomen to tuck genitals in without having to wear a gaff.
Also, they have included a lingerie tape designed to be extra sensitive when it is peeled off, which is saying something from the other alternatives they've had so far. For Liu, creating the lingerie line was a challenge in itself because she's never had a proper background in fashion. For 8 years, from the age of 11 to 19, she trained at the Royal Ballet School, and she worked as a professional dancer in Sweden, but she was determined to design the products herself.
She did everything, from sourcing the fabric to making the sketches, before getting it right. She tried on each of the garments that were made before they found the perfect one. She jokes that the experience was an interesting one. But she said trying on the first completely perfect underwear made all her hard work worth it. “I got really emotional just to feel like a woman finally, just to be wearing something that was actually called ‘lingerie’ and to know how many women would be having that same feeling,” she says.
Liu hopes to see high-end brands doing more to include transpersons and make them feel valued. “They’ll put us on the runway to say that they’re inclusive, but then they’re not actually making any products that are specifically for trans women, because we do have specific needs when it comes to clothing. We do sometimes have different bodies – the shape of our bodies doesn’t always work with cis female clothes – so it would be nice to see some brands go a bit further to help us,” she says.
Soon, Liu hopes to see her products available in stores and not just online. “I think that’s very important for trans women to feel accepted. If they can go into any high street store and see the lingerie there, they’re going to feel that people do acknowledge them now – they don’t have to buy it online and feel all secretive about it,” she says. Trans representation, according to Liu is improving, but she's not resting on her laurels yet. “We’ve still got a long way to go to be seen and heard,” she adds.