Photography Quil Lemons

Chella Man designs a radically inclusive collection for Opening Ceremony

The genderqueer artist and activist created a deeply personal line in celebration of Pride month

Pride month is upon us for another year, and with it comes the influx of hastily branded products released by corporations purporting to support the cause and hoping you won’t notice the pink pound signs flashing in their eyes. ‘LGBT’ sandwiches and rainbow-emblazoned IKEA bags? Okay sure, go off.

Offering up something altogether more meaningful in celebration of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community, though, is Opening Ceremony, which today announces a collaboration with genderqueer activist, actor, and artist Chella Man. Working with the label on a collection of hand-painted pieces and hoodies, t-shirts, and vests – set to be released on June 1 – the Dazed 100-er used his experiences of transitioning on testosterone as a starting point, with the offering proving hugely personal for Man.

“Art has always been a mode of communication for me before I had access to the language to explain how I felt inside,” explains Man of his decision. “I was able to use it as a catharsis when coming to terms with my emotions and views on gender, race, sexuality, and disability. It’s impossible to separate my identity from my art.”

Notably, all proceeds from sales of the capsule collection will go to the Griffin-Gracy Educational Retreat and Historical Centre – the first organisation of its kind to be dedicated to transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the USA. Though he has no prior connection to it, the cause is naturally close to Man’s heart.

“I acknowledge and appreciate the work Miss Major Griffin-Gracy has done for the queer community and the world as a whole,” he confirms. “She supports and protects trans and GNC lives, especially those that are femmes of colour that are being targeted every day. As a community and as a human being with empathy, we must show up for them. I’m not safe until we all are.”

Also important to Man was making sure the collection was as inclusive as possible. Not only did he insist on hiring an all-queer team to work in front of and behind the camera, he also chose wheelchair accessible locations for the shoot itself and ensured all assets were captioned properly. “It was a lot to consider for my very first collection, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This is the mindset I believe all organisations should revolve around.”

On the line-up when it comes to the collection campaign are a series of Man’s closest friends, including photographer Quil Lemons, models MaryV Benoit and Aaron Philip, activist and writer Adam Eli, and former Teen Vogue and Them editor Phillip Picardi, and with good reason. “I wanted to showcase the fact that living outside binaries, categories, and labels is not just possible – you can do it and thrive.” 

The collection will be available to buy at Opening Ceremony, Howard Street, NY and online on June 1.

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