Fang Guo Wants You To Know That Menswear Can Be Sensual (and Fun)
The rising designer on his first collection, the comforts of knitwear, and why Salvador Dalí is a queer fashion icon
Too often, menswear is relegated to shadowy corners of department stores, where near-identical suits stand in neat formation, ready to serve their indistinctive function. It doesn’t make for the most enjoyable shopping experience, which designer Fang Guo found frustrating. While studying for his BFA in Fashion Merchandising, Guo noted the limitations of traditional menswear. “Menswear is divided into two different categories,” he explained. “One is just formalwear, which is constricting and also binding. And then there’s sportswear, which is usually ill-fitting.” After talking to a few like-minded friends, Guo decided to take on the colossal gap in the menswear market.
FANG, Guo’s new menswear brand, fills this gap with comfortable and sensual pieces that embrace all body-types. The first collection focuses on knitwear, with an emphasis on ribbed textures, asymmetrical silhouettes, and subtle self-expression. “Knitwear in general is just super comfortable and body-hugging,” Guo said. “I added elastic to every single piece to make sure there is some sort of compression as well.” Luminous pearls add classic charm, while open backs introduce an element of drama to the collection. During our conversation, Guo wore the “romantic and whimsical” Bow Knit Tank, a knitted top with a high neckline adorned by an elegant bow.
Guo cites a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary list of influences on his designs. He began drawing at an early age and was “highly informed by the mangas and Sailor Moon.” After moving from China to the United States, he became fascinated by such 2000s American celebrities as Lindsay Lohan and Rachel Zoe. “They dress so boho-chic,” Guo marveled. “And then effortlessly at the same time.” Other inspirations include artists such as David Hockney and Alex Katz. Guo’s love of ‘60s minimalism finds expression in the clean lines and precise geometry of this knitwear collection.
By challenging typical notions of masculine fashion, FANG aims to dress queer and queer-minded people – those “deemed by the mainstream society as outsiders in terms of how they dress and identify themselves.” Given Guo’s interest in the visual arts, it makes sense that he identified Spanish artist Salvador Dalí as a pioneer in queer fashion. “I think he was through and through a queer person, you know, with his quirky personality and behavior,” Guo elaborated. “If you look up pictures of him, he was wearing a lot of very flamboyant and theatrical pieces with bows and furs. That wasn’t really seen back then.” What used to be a rarity is, thanks to shifting social norms and brands like FANG, becoming much more easily accessible.
Rather than hide the body in boxy suits or baggy gym clothes, the FANG collection adheres to it, flattering and hugging the figure which men are usually encouraged to conceal. “I want people to feel confident and I want people to feel empowered [wearing the collection],” Guo said. “I think toxic masculinity has taught us to hide our bodies and not to be sexually objectified and express ourselves.” With FANG, men’s bodies are no longer cloaked in fabric that serves to erase them. Rather, Guo believes that menswear is worth celebrating and that men can and should consider dressing a fun and creative process.
At this exciting moment in menswear, highly visible celebrities are challenging gendered clothing norms, with some men walking the red carpet in high heels and dresses. Guo remains most concerned with making the clothes he wants to wear. He announced, “I’m actually working on high-waisted jean shorts right now. So like, you’d never see that for menswear, but who doesn’t want to have their legs look longer?” He makes a good point; identifying what’s missing from menswear is fertile creative ground. Men’s clothing has been so limited for so long that the possibilities are endless. However, Guo insists that “queer fashion, or just fashion in general… doesn’t necessarily mean you wear crazy things to make a stance, but rather, soft and subtle expression – for example, what FANG is.”
Shop the collection on the FANG website.