In the debut campaign video for Fang, a new, queer-focused knitwear line launched last month, a group of models are seen dancing, swimming, and playing cards in Joshua Tree, California. All the while, they’re adorned in chic, minimal knit tops. The video evokes a free-spirited, confident spirit and is a clear expression of platonic queer love. “The campaign was inspired by a trip I took with my friends,” says Fang Guo, the line’s founder. “It was a bunch of friends who just enjoy each other's company and have love, support, and admiration for each other.”
Hyping up queer people is exactly what Guo hopes to do through fashion, though self-confidence and self-love hasn’t always come naturally to him. In fact, the designer began the line after years of not being able to find clothing that makes him feel empowered. Guo—who is from Beijing, but now lives in New York—got the idea for the Fang in the early 2010s, while he was a fashion student at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Around this time, he was becoming increasingly frustrated with the menswear options he was finding while shopping. “The menswear was either super constricting formalwear, or American sportswear that’s baggy and lacks shape,” says Guo.
Instead, Guo wanted to showcase and be proud of his body, not cover it up with boxy shapes. So when he graduated and began working in PR and merchandising, he knew he wanted to create a line that could fill this gap, specifically for queer people. The new collection, which finally launched last month, resulted in a line of form-fitting knitwear tops that subvert menswear classics such as polos or tanks by adding strappy backs or elegant pussybows to them. “I really want to use Fang as a vehicle to turn toxic masculinity on its head,” says Guo.
The designer adds that knitwear—an innately bodycon fabric—felt like the right material to do this with. “I really want everyone to embrace the body that they’re in,” he says. “Knitwear hugs and shelters the body, and it’s also very forgiving.” To make each of his sleek tops available to more people, Guo added stretch and spandex to the pieces, so that each “size” can actually span a few sizes. In addition to the unconventional silhouettes, he also wanted to venture outside the basic neutral colors that are popular in menswear, and to experiment with punchier emerald greens and tangerines. “I’m very informed by ’60s art,” says Guo of the color palette. “Artists, such as David Hockney, Alex Katz, and Donald Judd.” Manga and anime are two other big inspirations for the line.
Guo also wants Fang to be a vessel for queer community building. “In June, we are planning on donating 10 percent of all our proceeds to the Ali Forney Center, which is the nation’s largest [nonprofit] providing shelter and health care services to queer youth,” says Guo. He will also be expanding into other categories such as shorts and underwear. But through it all, he envisions the collection simply being a space where queer people can be more confident and expressive in their style choices, after years of not having many options. “Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m a lot more confident with my sexuality, gender identity, and style,” says Guo. “Everyone has the right to dress how they want to dress. And there’s a piece in the collection for everyone.”