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Kickstart This: Quintessentially Queer Chinese Clothing Line by LYAN

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Here’s something you don’t fund every day: a Kickstarter campaign by indie brand LYAN, whose designs bask in Chinese LGBTQ+ culture and gender fluidity.

LYAN SS18 fashion

According to his Kickstarter, LYAN (the brand) has been featured in publications like Vogue IT, 时尚Cosmo China, and Temper Magazine. The designer Li Yiyang — who also goes by “Lyan” in English — frames the timeliness of this next season around a lack of family support. Writes Li on his Kickstarter:

“Once my family found out my sexual orientation through my designs, they tried to ‘fix’ me, ground me, and force me to stop doing what I’ve been dreaming of. They ended up disowning me.”

The designer, who divides his time between Shanghai and New York City, says that his traditional family discovered his sexual identity last December, which caused a huge rift between them. “My older brother literally told me that he thinks being gay means a life of drugs, orgies and HIV,” he says. “It’s unfair, but sometimes being gay and being seen as ‘bad’ means we have to overcompensate and do something amazing in order to prove something to people.”

LYAN pink jacket ruffles

Li says that he’s tried to make his brand an active part of the his community, and has participated in LGBTQ+ focused events in Shanghai and Hangzhou — eastern cities that lead the curve in acceptance and visibility of LGBTQ+ culture in China.

He turned to Kickstarter in order to realize his next collection in part because of its support for LGBTQ+ projects around the world. “I’ve never shied away from sharing my story and my own experiences,” he says. “I think sharing the truth of who I am, telling my story, is a powerful thing.” (The project has already jumped to the front page of Kickstarter’s “LGBTQIA+” featured projects.)

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Replete with ruffles and slick, metallic fabrics, past collections take cues from LGBTQ+ pop culture with bilingual phrases that resonate with English- and Chinese-speaking queers. The designer writes that his next season’s primary inspiration is Wu Zetian — China’s first and only female emperor — and what he calls “the fantasy of her male concubines.” According to the Kickstarter, support fully goes to operations and realizing the collection, while additional support will fund the photo shoot, entry into a trade show in Shanghai and a pop-up store in Brooklyn, NYC, among others.

Follow the link to support LYAN’s S/S 2020 collection on Kickstarter. It runs for another two weeks.

All images: courtesy LYAN

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