Former Saanich resident Amelia Trofymow is showcasing eight pieces of lingerie designed for transgender women at the final design show of her four-year bachelor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Submitted

Saanich designer creates lingerie line for transgender women

Reynolds grad says apparel targets under-represented market

A young Saanich woman’s 11-piece set of lingerie designs are standing out ahead of the Wilson School of Design’s annual show for graduating design students.

Amelia Trofymow’s show is called Énouement, which consists of intimates for transgender women, and is one of 32 collections by graduating design students showcasing their collections at the industry-grade event, April 19 and 20 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond.

“You are told to come up with three different target markets in the industry that don’t have a place in the market right now,” said Trofymow, a 2012 grad of Reynolds secondary school. “You find a design problem, which I did with transgender lingerie, and for that, I did a lot of research and interviews to get to this point.”

Trofymow entered the bachelor of fashion design shortly after high school without knowing what niche of the clothing market she would focus on.

Members from Greater Vancouver’s fashion design industry are invited and there are seven shows, each with 300 sittings. Eight of Trofymow’s 11 pieces will be displayed on the runway, assuming everything goes right.

“I’ve watched [our] year-end fashion show before and I’ve been part of it as a dresser, but every time is the first time, you never know if something is going to rip or if a model will be dressed in time,” she said.

Trofymow’s designs are available for custom sizing, making them available to anyone at any stage of their transition, and working with the post-op body at any stage in the process.

“I’m using soft fabrics that work with post-op bodies, such as silk fabrics that are good for sore breasts, and also longer straps for the breasts,” she said.

Other modifications are designed to work with a wider rib cage while offering an A, B or C cup, keeping in mind individual needs, be it surgery, wider bra bands, or wider straps over the shoulders.

The other key area is the styles of underwear. One has ‘dart manipulation’ in the crotch and is made out of powermesh, which stretches and fits a pre-transitional body type, Trofymow said.

“We also have a during-transition pair which have a manipulated front crotch panel which helps to tuck and shape the crotch of the wearer,” Trofymow added. “In addition we have the Gaff ‘under panty,’ which sits underneath for post transitional and is made out of elastic and durable heavy material that pushes the genitalia backwards between the buttocks, thereby eliminating any front bulk.”

When Trofymow started researching she learned that when trans people shop in lingerie stores they typically face varying levels of discrimination, or are even told they have to leave.

“I interviewed three people in depth who said they get odd looks, odd comments, and in general are not serviced,” Trofymow said. “Attendants tend to be closed off and awkward.”

One store owner said she’ll help by appointment after hours, which still denies the customer convenience that cisgender (those whose gender identity aligns with the one they were assigned with at birth) people are provided.

Trofymow also found that, while there are some products available which are similar to what she’s making, they tend to be ill-fitted, cheap, or fetish oriented. Finding just one retailer online, she felt they missed the mark in providing apparel with an intimate feel.

“The whole point of this is to celebrate bodies going through transition, and really acknowledging there’s not an A B or C category for everyone,” she said.

“Post-transition doesn’t mean you have to be female from a science point of view, it’s who you want to be on the inside.”

Trofymow plans to run a pop-up store this summer to market the line. It will be custom designed by order and will also be available online.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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