FANG’s Sensual Clothing Challenges Toxic Masculinity

The queer-minded brand's new summer and swimwear collection plays with the idea of gendered fashion

There is nothing shy about FANG. Neither their high-cut underwear, pearl-strung swimwear nor their tank tops bound by chokers leave much room for coyness. Instead, the bold menswear brand is upfront about sensuality and femininity. The brand’s form-fitting silhouettes, subversive cutouts and asymmetric dresses expand men’s fashion and critically challenge conventional constructs of masculinity.

Founded by Fang Guo in 2021, FANG grew out of a lack of options in menswear—something Guo quickly learned when he moved to the US from Beijing to pursue a degree in fashion. “One thing I realized is that a lot of things are super ill-fitted and they’re huge. So then I ventured into womenswear and had my ‘aha!’ moment,” he tells us. “There are so many cuts and silhouettes and fabric choices and color offered in womenswear that are not in menswear at all. Why is that?”

While apparel intended for women often accentuates the body, contemporary menswear remains bogged down by archaic notions of masculinity. This means loose, boxy silhouettes in dark or primary colors often fill clothing racks. It’s this category, geared toward straight and cisgender men, that motivated Guo to change what men’s fashion looks like. In April, he founded FANG as a way to “diversify and provide more options for menswear and queer-minded people,” he explains. This is also why Guo defines the label as “gender-expansive menswear,” as the collection subverts the traditional styles but can be worn by anybody, no matter their gender identity.

FANG’s first launch celebrates the body with shape-defining fits and necklines that are traditionally seen in women’s fashion. The Asymmetrical Off-the-Shoulder Knit Tank exposes and accentuates shoulder and collar bones, lending the clothes a playful touch.

In their new summer collection, the Eyelet Strap Back Tank merges traditionally feminine elements like a halter silhouette and exposed back with more masculine grommets found in utilitarian wear. Together the top is sensual and subversive, unapologetically allowing men to express their multifaceted nature and sensuality. Elsewhere, the Asymmetrical Slash Shoulder Tank with Bow affords men a delicate whimsy. The lilac hue, shoulder slit and bow with long draping ribbon that sashays work in concert to communicate a different way to be manly.

The summer collection also features FANG’s first dress and skirt, embracing even more explicitly feminine styles. The Square Neck Ribbed Dress takes after the brand’s classic square-neckline tops, which is a contemporary iteration of muscle tanks. While the top half of the garment and its clean lines reflect a slightly edgier quality, the bottom half is patched together by panels of fabric that create flowing, breezy movements.

“We use models sometimes that are more objectively ‘masculine’ and put them into skirts and dresses to create a kind of visual contrast,” continues Guo. “The messaging is: you should be able to wear whatever you want to wear if you feel some type of way. If you’re a 6’5″ muscle daddy and want to wear a pussy bow you should be able to do so—that does’t erase your masculinity.”

For Guo, reframing what it means to be manly was particularly crucial in his own quest to embrace masculinity. As a queer Chinese man in the US, he came up against even more conventions that questioned his gender. “Learning about the stereotypes that are foisted on me and the Asian community in general was a learning curve,” he says. Like many Asian men in this country, Guo encountered stereotypes of Asian men being more submissive, docile or effeminate. In creating FANG, he made sure his messaging played with those notions.

“I use visual language a lot to talk about Asian masculinity,” the founder explains. “For our recent campaigns, we feature objectively more masculine Asian models with their more feminine, white counterparts to completely flip the script of how Asian men are viewed within the queer community and society at large.”

Guo approaches the visual depictions of his brand with thoughtfulness and intention, including the campaign for FANG’s recently launched swimwear collection. The founder—who often draws inspiration from artists and architecture for his designs—looked to renowned photographer and writer Tom Bianchi and his erotic and intimate Polaroids of gay men in the queer safe haven Fire Island. For their swimwear collection, FANG recreated some of Bianchi’s iconic photos with a 2022 sensibility. Like all of the brand’s apparel, the swimwear titillates with revealing elements, cuts that accentuate the body and unexpected feminine touches.

“What I want to do with FANG is design something unconventional and challenge perspective. Hopefully as our community wears this type of clothes, cisgender straight men can open their minds a little more. I think that will be beneficial to our society as a whole,” says Guo. “We need to spearhead these movements and show people what is possible.” Through daring, multifaceted clothes, FANG imagines a world where masculinity doesn’t need to be toxic, uniform or dull.

Images courtesy of FANG