How To Become a Genderqueer Model

Many nonbinary readers have written in asking how to get started modeling for queer blogs, websites, and fashion lines. Here are my quick tips to success!

[Note: I updated this article on Jan 20, 2017. All additions are marked. I've also greyed out information that is no longer relevant, like companies and groups which are no longer around. If you want me to add your brand, comment below!] 

Rivolta Sata, by Zave Smith

Rivolta Sata, by Zave Smith

Step 1: Get Some Photos Taken

Find a photographer who you work well with and who is also looking to build up their portfolio. Take as many shots as you can. Relax, have fun, and get an array of headshots and full body shots. If your photographer has experience editing photos for fashion to bring out elements of your outfit, even better! Also try to get as much variety in style as possible because people want to see that you can pull off many different looks, like Melles Tran did in their recent Qwear feature:

 
 

Share your photos on social media, but also keep a few photos unshared. You never know when an opportunity might come along where media needs original photos, and this way you’ll have some ready to go. Qwear likes to publish fresh content, and I know we’re not alone!

Step 2: Prepare Your Marketing Pitch

Think of three words to describe your style. Avoid overused words like “dapper,” “androgynous,” and “tomboy.” You want to set yourself apart from the crowd so that people remember you. 

Then, write up a little intro paragraph about who you are, what you do, where you live, and what your style is like. For example, our writer Courtney says that her “personal style draws influences from American heritage details, as well as her travels in London, Edinburgh, Tokyo, and Beijing.” Most blogs love to learn a little bit about you outside of modeling. Check out Qwear's team page for more bio examples.

Step 3: Reach Out To Blogs/Magazines

Now that you have some awesome photos and you can tell people who you are, email your favorite blogs and magazines to pitch a feature. Tell them about yourself and include a few images to give them a taste of your style. Here's a good starting list:

  • Autostraddle: The most popular queer girl culture website that is also trans inclusive. They sometimes do “outfits of the week," in their style column in which they feature different queers, but they are also open to new ideas for pieces!
  • Bois Society: An online and print magazine geared towards MOC queers. Send some beauty their way.
  • Bklyn Boihood: A group that produces safe space events for bois of color. Every year they release a calendar featuring 12 new studly bois with inspiration quotes. Perhaps the next one could be you...
  • DapperQ: Known as the "GQ for the “unconventionally masculine,” dapperQ features style in their 7 Days of Dapper features, in which you can send in your own photos for publication. Or if you are in the New York City area, they might consider you for their next “He Said/ We Said” photoshoot.
  • Jack Tar 207: If you live near or can get to Portland, Maine, contacting Jack Tar 207 is a no brainer. They are a queer group of artists and stylists that captures Maine style but also occasionally veer outside of that sphere.
  • Hey Queer: A new dapper queer Asian photography project that I absolutely love so far. If you fit the demographic, message them on tumblr.
  • Posture Magazine: The edgier your style, the better suited you are for this brilliant and daring queer arts magazine. If Fashion Editor Christiane Nickel takes a liking to your style, she may just feature you in a Style Maestro.
  • Queer B.O.I.S: an Atlanta-based blog dedicated to providing visibility and empowering masculine, masculine of center, butch, gender-queer women and transmen in the LGBT community in fashion, business, health and lifestyle from around the world. They accept submissions.
  • Qwear (oh hay!): You can email myself at Qwear for a style profile or a feature of your suggestion.
  • Stud Model Project: Founded by Teresa Morcho-Siapao, the Stud Model Project aims to provide a platform for Studs - especially studs of color. [Added 1.20.17]
    Tomboyish: Ari Fitz of Tomboyish often features other tomboys she loves and travels around the world to film. She just told Qwear that she already booked her season for next year but it never hurts to get on her radar for future opportunities.
  • Trans Models: One of the first transgender modeling agencies. It is based in New York and run by trans model Peche Di. The agency books top commercial, print, movie, and runway assignments.[Added 1.20.17]

Step 4: Forget Agencies — Go Right to the Brands!

Chris Konnaris modeling Angie Chuang. Photo by Matthias Heiderich

Chris Konnaris modeling Angie Chuang. Photo by Matthias Heiderich

As Model Ryley Ruben Pogensky told me in his interview, if your style is non binary, modeling agencies most likely won't want to sign with you. Models like Ryley, Elliott Sailors, and Erika Linder are making some headway in this area, but I recommend starting out by going straight to clothing brands and designers themselves.

Start with known queer companies, and then branch out to companies you think you can convert. You may not know that Bindle & Keep was still a classic menswear suit maker until Rae approached them about bringing Rae on board and marketing to people assigned female at birth. 

Reach out to a select handful whose designs really speak to you, and tell them why you are choosing them personally. Check out All Jacked Up (Toronto, Canada), Ambiance Couture Bow Ties (Brooklyn), Androgyny (San Francisco), Angie Chuang (Brooklyn), Bindle & Keep (NYC but travels frequently), Bluestockings Boutique (New York), Bklyn Dry Goods (Brooklyn), Charlieboy (Sydney, Australia), Cotton Bow Tie Co. (Ithaca, New York), Duchess Clothier (Portland, Oregon), Fox & Brie (Austin, Texas), Genderflux (Atlanta, GA), Grit Gear (New York City), Jag & Co. (Brooklyn), Kipper Clothiers (San Francisco), MATRIARCH (New York and Berlin), Marimacho (Brooklyn), Original Tomboy (Louisville, KY), Peter Manning/ Five Eight NYC (New York City) Play Out Underwear (New York City), Raife & Singer (Brooklyn), RodeoH (San Francisco), Saint Harridan (Oakland, CA but travels frequently), Scout's Honor (San Francisco), Sharpe Suiting (Los Angeles), Sir New York (New York City), SJW Menswear For Women (London), The Shirt By Rochelle (New York City), TomboyX (Seattle, WA), Tradlands (Maine and San Francisco), Trans* Is Beautiful *(New York),Two Toungues PDX (Portland, OR), VEER NYC (New York City), Wildfang (Portland, OR). [List updated 1.20.17]

 

Step 5: Hit Up the Queer Fashion Show Scene

Elliott Saylors In dapperQ's "Unheeled" Fashion Show

Elliott Saylors In dapperQ's "Unheeled" Fashion Show

dapperQ puts on queer fashion shows several times a year in New York and sometimes in California. If you consider yourself to fall within the butch/transmasculine category, email Anita Dolce Vita and tell her you’d like to be considered to model for their next event.

[Update 1.20.17]  Rainbow Fashion Week in New York and Queer Fashion Week in Oakland, CA put on a week of queer fashion shows once a year, each!

Qwear is also cooking up some plans for fashion shows, so also let us know and we’ll keep you on the back burner!

Any of the brands listed above may have fashion shows coming up that you could be in as well. If you are interested in runway work, you can mention that to them when you introduce yourself.

Tips for walking the runway: Anita says, "Each show and designer will have their own vision/vibe and the runway coordinator will provide some direction. But, it's always good to have your own signature walk and practice in front of friends or a mirror to minimize performance anxiety."

Performer Goldie Peacock © Taleen Dersdepanian

Performer Goldie Peacock © Taleen Dersdepanian

More tips:

Be Flexible: Angie Chuang told us that what she looks for most in models is flexibility. "Be flexible with time and quick to respond," she says. "It shows dedication and dependability. It also shows that you're easy to work with and may lead to people wanting to work with you more. Easiest way to get gigs is through word of mouth."

Thanks to dapperQ editor Anita Dolce Vita for additions to this piece.

As Qwear's Founding Editor, Sonny’s work centers around envisioning a future in which the clothing people wear does not dictate their chances of survival. Sonny was awarded 2015 dapperQ of the Year and was the first trans blogger to be sponsored by Topman. In March 2016, Sonny spoke at South by South West's first official queer fashion panel.