Making Fashion Inclusive, Right Here in L.A.

Fashion has no bounds, and it also has no gender. That’s what Leon Elias Wu, a Taiwanese-American trans man, and Los Angeles native, has created quite the stir in the contemporary fashion world with the creation of his company, Sharpe Suiting. And we’re 100 percent here for it. Wu, who would consider himself foremost a social activist, found his niche market in 2014 within the fashion industry – queer fashion – and was determined to make his mark and radically shift the world of fashion into a more inclusive space for clients within the LGBTQ+ community. Recognizing that he could combine his love of fashion and his passion for the LGBTQ+ community, Wu found a unique opportunity to create a challenge to gender norms and how they show up within style. 

“Gender has been a largely evolving part of my personal journey. I’ve worn menswear and womenswear,” says Wu. “As a trans person, I’ve socialized myself as a woman and a man. I’ve showcased alongside esteemed drag performers, fashioning both masculinity and femininity. It is no longer valid to talk about menswear versus womenswear. Nor is it relevant in the slightest to discuss masculine versus feminine clothing. Both masculine and feminine characteristics are observed in every person. We cannot encapsulate an entire persona into one gender versus the other. So, if fashion is identity, then why entirely separate the two.”

Sharpe Suiting Brings Luxury Fashion To Marginalized Communities

Sharpe Suiting provides luxury fashion to marginalized communities focusing on those that identify as women, masculine of center and butch lesbians/women, transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary. By embarking on this journey, Wu continually builds a brand centered around visual activism through fashion.

Performing as a Drag King and participating in the styling, costuming, and choreography for 15 years, Wu learned how to specialize in styling masculinity. “Female assigned at birth, I always felt masculine, wide shoulders. I felt like a boy when I was little,” shared Wu. “Then, during the traumatizing years when I was trying to fit in with what people around me wanted me to be, I had to learn feminine style and dress.” His experience with pledging a sorority in college helped him understand how to style for femininity, coming in handy later in designing for celebrities like Laverne Cox and Martine Rothblatt. 

Wu, As A LGBTQ+ Changemaker

Wu is becoming a changemaker when breaking through in the LGBTQ+ fashion space. Gay cis men have always had a place in the mainstream fashion world. Now Wu uses his knowledge to expand this further to facilitate lesbian, masculine of center women, agender non-binary, and trans inclusivity. “The fashion and entertainment industries define beauty and sex standards,” he says. “And, today, we see more diverse representation in these spaces, thanks to brands like Sharpe and their visual activist comrades.”

Traditionally, beauty and style standards are the landmark in the fashion and entertainment industries, and currently, it is very limited in capturing humanity. Wu believes there’s so much beauty in this world that goes undefined. “People have yet to see it due to lack of visibility,” he says. When Wu first started his company, he wanted people who identified similarly to him (masculine of center, androgynous, transgender, gender nonconforming) to be visible and seen as sexy or desirable by the zeitgeist. Not only has his dream developed to bring more visibility to similarly identified people, but it has also brought much visibility to other marginalized groups. 

Companies and successful brands are like celebrities. They have the means to inspire large forums of people. Successful companies serve as natural platforms for their employees. Companies that use visibility narcissistically and chauvinistically further systemic elitism, racism, ableism, and inequality. The ones who use visibility positively host communities that serve to inspire diversity, compassion, wisdom, and unity.”

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COLOR IS BEAUTIFUL

ABOUT THE L.A. STYLE MAGAZINE “COLOR IS BEAUTIFUL” ISSUE

It is with love and optimism that we share this issue in such a time as this. L.A. STYLE announces our unwavering solidarity for the equality revolution; we join hands and hearts with our sisters and brothers who are oppressed by systemic racism and other injustices occurring due to the color of our skin. As Robert Frost once wrote, “The only way out is through.”
 
This “Color is Beautiful” issue,  features over 100 public statements from a collection of movie stars, music legends, political figures, sports stars and more who have spoken out for justice. 
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