Back in 2015, menswear designer Daniel w. Fletcher showed his first collection having recently graduated from Central Saint Martins, catching stylist Lorenzo Posocco’s attention. “I’ve just started working with this young singer, I think she’s going to be huge and she’d look really cool in some of this,” Fletcher recalls him saying. The artist in question was Dua Lipa, making her Fletcher’s first female client. And as the fanbase of his gender-fluid designs grew to encompass other well-known names, including Harry Styles and Australian singer Troye Sivan, so too did the demand for women’s clothing—markedly after his appearance in the Netflix reality series Next In Fashion.
To supply demand, Fletcher is unveiling his first womenswear collection on 23 February during London Fashion Week. Although he’s called it womenswear, it’s more a case of sizing and fit, as he explains: “My beliefs are still the same—a shirt is a shirt and a pair of trousers is a pair of trousers—to be worn by anyone.”
In fact, the starting point for the 18 looks was his menswear archive—see the denim-corduroy checkered pieces, split-hem trousers, and equestrian and military decorations—and continues his experiments with upcycling fabric scraps into patchwork: this time, dresses.
While the plan is to show co-ed in the future, with the UK still under strict lockdown, Fletcher shot an AW21 lookbook starring trans models Maddie and Margo Whitley. The 20-year-old twin sisters have attracted 425k followers collectively through their TikTok videos, and Fletcher sees parallels in their impact through social media and his own through Next In Fashion.
“I didn’t feel comfortable coming out when I was younger because I didn’t know anyone who was gay, and that really resonated with people in my reality TV journey,” he says. “I’m from a small town in northwest England, and Maddie and Margo come from a small town in Texas. Young trans teens come to them all the time and say how they’ve inspired them. They’re beautiful, open, confident and don’t take themselves too seriously—they really embody the brand’s spirit.”
With that, we spoke to Maddie and Margo to get to know them a little better…
What do you hope to bring to people through your TikTok videos and where do you want to take it from here?
Margo: If there’s one thing we can bring, we hope it’s confidence and self-love. We’re two of the biggest advocates for self-love and self-expression. From here, we hope to take our message further and spread positivity on TikTok.
Maddie: It can be a negative space at times, and our goal is to spread some positivity and make people feel better about themselves. Self-love is everything and if we can help in any way, we’re happy to do so.
Outside of TikTok, what do you enjoy doing?
Margo: We love thrifting, painting and watching movies. We’re always hanging out together and we’ll usually be doing one of those three things.
As a platform, how powerful is fashion when talking about gender and identity?
Maddie: Fashion is the most powerful conversation starter. Fashion is how you express yourself without using any words. It spreads a message of acceptance, and joy around gender and identity goes a long way.
Where do you think both the fashion industry and society are when it comes to gender-fluid fashion?
Maddie: They’re both growing more accepting of gender identity and fluidity, fashion-related or otherwise. There are still steps to be taken, though.
Margo: We hope that it becomes normalised, that it’s not something that needs accepting. It’s just so normal that there doesn’t have to be a conversation.
How do you want clothes to make you feel?
Margo: Our personal style is a little grungy, very dark and a little slutty. We make our fashion choices by wearing what makes us feel powerful and confident. We want our clothes to be a personal extension of who we are.
When did you first encounter Daniel’s work and what struck you about it?
Maddie: We first saw it on Next In Fashion. There’s a lot we love about his designs. In his most recent collection, we fell in love with the sharp tailoring and bold designs. They made us feel strong and powerful. When wearing the collection, we felt like we could conquer the world.
What are your favourite pieces in the womenswear collection and why?
Margo: Hands-down, our favourite pieces were the suits. They’re the perfect suit for us. Sometimes suits make us feel dysphoric, as trans women, but these made us feel beautiful. The suits enhanced our powerful femininity instead of diminishing it.
How does it feel to be the face of Daniel’s debut womenswear collection?
Maddie: It’s such an honour to represent a powerful collection. It’s a strong message that trans women are capable of anything, even being the face of Daniel’s debut collection. We’re ecstatic to be the first Daniel w. Fletcher women.