Leo Roux Clothing has created a line of well-fitting, fashionable, everyday clothing for transgender women, transgender men, and genderqueer/non-binary people. Clothing is an important part of the transgender story, and an important part of how all people present themselves to the world and experience their own bodies. Clothing is not superficial, as we often make it out to be. Clothing is political – it is a presentation of identity on behalf of the person wearing it, and a form of validation and acceptance on behalf of the culture that designs and manufactures it.
We sat down with founder and designer Leo Roux to find out what inspires the designs and what we can expect next from the brand.
dapperQ: Can you tell me a bit about the history and evolution of Leo Roux? What motivated you to start the brand?
Leo Roux: This company has been one-and-a-half years in the making. It was born out of frustration with the difficulty of finding clothing that fit right and looked right. I wanted to change that, and I wanted to do it for all people who experience those issues. The decision to focus on the transgender community’s needs was very important to me, as was the decision to offer both a transmasculine line and a transfeminine line.
Leo Roux: Modern, urban, and occasionally a little funky! Versatile casual wear that can be dressed up or dressed down.
dapperQ: What inspires your designs?
Leo Roux: Marrying function with form. Good fit is of ultra importance, so that is the starting point for our design process. From there, we integrate various design aspects (such as cut, color blocking, linear vs. curved design details, and the way clothing drapes) to visually enhance either a masculine appearance (our transmasculine line), or a feminine appearance (our transfeminine line).
dapperQ: Many of our readers have problems finding masculine clothing that fit them properly. How is Leo Roux addressing this issue?
Our transmasculine line offers solutions to various issues that people encounter when shopping for masculine clothing: pants not fitting at the hips, or being too long; t-shirts being too tight around the hips, or sized too large; button-down shirts straining across the hips, or being sized too large.
The approach is twofold: First, we address the proportions (height, and shoulder to hip proportions) of people who have challenges with wearing masculine clothing. For example, our t-shirt, jeans and button down are all cut to fit wider hips, and our jeans will be offered with inseam lengths as short as 28” (to start with – shorter if there is demand for it).
Second, we integrate design elements that visually lend a masculine appearance to our transmasculine line, despite the fact that the clothing is cut to fit a more ‘feminine’ frame. For example, our t-shirt uses color blocking to camouflage hips with darker fabric, and highlight shoulder width with brighter-colored fabric. Our button down uses stylish vents on each side of the hemline to keep the shirt from straining across the hips, which allows us to maintain the masculine silhouette of the torso. Our jeans visually slim down hip and thigh curves by means of the cut of the pant legs, which balance out the upper and lower leg the silhouette. And I have to say, these effects are pretty transformative to see in person.
dapperQ: How does Leo Roux stand out from some of the other recent queer clothing collections that have launched over the last few years?
Leo Roux: Our clothing is transgender-focused (although many other people will likely find what they have been looking for in our lines as well). We offer two lines: transmasculine, and transfeminine. We offer casual wear (jeans, t-shirts, shorts – transmasculine line / jeans, tops, and dresses – transfeminine line). We see ourselves as a casual alternative to suiting and dress clothing for those who present masculine-of-center, and an alternative option to night-club / evening wear for those who present feminine-of-center. Our design goes beyond the status quo in refining fit, and marrying form and function.
dapperQ: How would you describe your personal everyday style? Has it been a journey defining your own personal style? Tell me about it.
Leo Roux: My personal style has evolved from dressing to hide in plain sight, earth tones, and playing-it-safe (and in retrospect, very ‘macho’ style), to playing with colors that pop, and juxtaposing certain elements (masculine / feminine, dressing down / dressing up) for a more adventurous look. For example, black and white floral print skinny jeans (from the women’s section) capped with a serious, dark blue, long-sleeved button down (men’s section lucky find), and brown leather brogues (thrift store lucky find) with bright blue laces (my personal addition). The trick, of which we are all painfully aware, is finding stuff that fits right.
dapperQ: Who or what has most influenced your personal style?
Leo Roux: A friend of mine who is a professional clothier first helped me get into menswear after transitioning. Then another friend helped me experiment with slightly less traditional looks, and both he and my wife inspired me to experiment with wearing bolder, funkier colors.
dapperQ: Who are your fashion icons?
Leo Roux: Yves Saint Laurent, of course. Then there’s Dent de Man, and pretty much anyone who puts together a great outfit with African print fabric, as well as anyone who creates these fabrics. I’m always in awe of quality African print fabrics – they are complete works of art to me. They are so unapologetic and full of life, hypnotically geometric, and in garment form they juxtapose perfectly with more serious articles of clothing.
dapperQ: What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?
Leo Roux: I mean, it has to be jeans, hasn’t it? You can dress a good pair of denim jeans up or down; you can wear them summer or winter, they’re comfortable, and ideally, they last forever. As Jonny Johansson of Acne Studios in Sweden put it, “five pocket jeans are the Coca-Cola of fashion… It’s never in, it’s never out, [and] that’s the beauty of it.”
dapperQ: What can we expect next from Leo Roux?
Leo Roux: More clothing options: We’re launching with just a few of our garments. We can’t wait to release the rest when the time comes! More fabric choices: Once we’re in operation, the sky will be the limit, and we’re excited to offer a range of fun prints and versatile solids. More sizing options: We’ll take feedback from our pre-order customers and make any adjustments needed to our sizing ranges. We look forward to offering plus sizes once we are up and running! And eventually, shoes!