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Fashion Victim vs Style Creator?

I was seventeen, lying down in the front hall of the family home, with my Dad pulling up my jean’s zip with a coat hanger! The aim was for every part of the jeans to be so tight there was no room to breathe!

And it worked – no space between my cute young body, and the jeans, no space even between my high heels and the jeans. I was short (still am!) and the aim of these jeans was to cover my shoes too, so no one knew how short I was. It seems funny now, and in those days a lot of people thought I was taller than I actually was!

All of this came to my mind because of a discussion with Sara Andrew of Inspire PR Media about fashion and style, in general and particularly in regards to Xdress. This is something we are both passionate about, in our roles of writer and publicist, and of course beyond that it’s intrinsically interesting to us! We realised that this following by rote what the media, the fashion magazines, the people in the know say we “should” be wearing is quite clearly fashion. There is no space for individual thought or individual expression, just an almost “mindless” desire to get it “right”, look the part, fit in and not be ridiculed.

It’s easy to see from my experience of many years ago that I was in a small way a fashion victim. And not just in the clothes I wore, but in my desire to be taller.

This is so different from style. Style is where we get to truly express ourselves. Have you ever had that experience of putting on some clothes, and your whole body relaxes, you feel happy, you look good, and other people notice that too? This is a space where we don’t need that external “validation” from the style gurus; being in touch with what makes our body “sing” is enough for us – that internal enjoyment is far greater than a blanket validation from the outside world.

Of course with what we call “style”, there can sometimes be some “efforting”, some proving. Think of the person who deliberately goes out of their way to find something different, something that will provoke a reaction in the mainstream. This is different from pure style, where you find what works for you, what delights you, what makes your body feel relaxed and happy, and you go with that, without a point of view about what it will create as a reaction or a response in the people around you.

And now we come to Xdress. With these designs, this lingerie, we are dealing with “style”, not fashion.

Of course fashion tends by its very nature to be mainstream. And when Xdress was founded back in 1989, this was far from mainstream.  Kristina and her husband David, founders of Xdress, explain how at the beginning it was something new, innovative and almost forbidden. Until that point, the only “innovation” in men’s underwear was different colours from the standard white Y-fronts, with men who desired something different having to buy women’s underwear.

So, Xdress with its beautiful designs that were actually tailored to the male body were very different, and very sought after by a minority of men looking for something different, comfortable and exciting. Xdress wasn’t just taking female underwear and making it for men, they were looking at the male body, and seeing what would be comfortable and luxurious for men.

When Xdress started, Kristina reports how she in particular was misconstrued. People assumed she had some kind of agenda to change men for some kind of political reason. She laughs and says actually she just enjoys seeing men in underwear that they love and is more interesting, more exciting, more appealing than “normal” underwear.

The very way that Xdress has developed over the years is also indicative of it emerging as a style that suits each individual who chooses a garment. David, who designs the underwear, explains how garments are designed based on the customers’ desires and feedback. Rather than this company “dictating” or trying to dictate what men wear (fashion), this company is willing to listen to its customers, and evolve based on what the customer actually is asking for.

And this is reflected in what Kristina describes as one of her greatest joys from founding this company: the feedback from the men. Men share how they love the underwear, how good it makes them feel, how they no longer feel alone in their desire to dress like this, girlfriends and wives also love it, and some people say it has even saved their marriage, actually even saved their lives! And whilst that may sound like a bold claim, not being able to express yourself through the clothes you wear can lead to a kind of dying inside, a lack of vitality and engagement with life. This underwear is an invitation to live and enjoy life! Even the models for Xdress say they love modelling the garments, they somehow bring them alive and mean they actually enjoy the photoshoots.

And this brings me to the next thing I would like to talk about: how it’s actually difficult to define Xdress and its garments. It’s easy at first sight to think – oh this is for gay men! And sure, there are many gay men who buy and love this underwear. However, many of the customers are straight men, who love to have different underwear, and wives and girlfriends who love to see their partners and husbands in this underwear.

This again is very different from fashion, which can easily be defined. Style by its very nature is constantly changing, continually evolving, as people and cultures change. This is reflected in Xdress’s willingness over the decades to not just listen to feedback from customers, but to be led by it, and to continue to be a different voice in a world where it sometimes seems most people are looking to fit in.

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Notes to editors

Dear Deborah, here is some information about Xdress – ABOUT XDRESS In 1989, Xdress Lingerie was the first company to think outside the box of men’s underwear. Through conversations with our customers, we began to understand what made them happy, regardless of where they fall on the gender spectrum. Slipping into Xdress lingerie means no longer wearing what others think you should wear. Free yourself and be happy. Regards, Sara Andrew

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Sara Andrew

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Inspire Pr Media Production

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602 513497

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