VIKTORIA ZUZIAK TEARS DOWN GENDER BINARIES WITH ALL NEW QUEER LABEL AND GENDER-DEFYING COLLECTION
JUNE 23rd 2020
Viktoria Zuziak is a gender fluid fashion label that through play and exploration questions the restrictive and exclusionary aspects of gender. It aims at loosening up the rigidity surrounding this socially constructed system by challenging its binary structure. This approach has heavily influenced the construction of the garments making them accessible to a more diverse group of bodies than what traditional construction of clothing allows for.
The Gender Benders collection is based on a questioning of femininity and the end result embraces it as a fluid means of expression and identification for everyone. As a brand the focuses on sourcing ethical materials and making sure is as sustainable as possible, Viktoria Zuziak, wherever possible, has considered environmental responsibility when sourcing materials, with more sustainable options such as fairly produced natural fibres, organic fabrics and recycled polyester, being favoured.
“While appearance alone does not create or break down the gender system, it has the power to reinforce its binary structure”
After graduating from Central Saint Martins, Viktoria decided to use her eponymous brand as a platform for raising questions about gender and encouraging play with gender expression. The brand is a London based social enterprise with the core value of promoting visibility and support for gender minorities. With each purchase a donation equivalent to 10% of the retail price is done to Mermaids, a charity that supports trans and gender diverse children.
“Being naturally feminine, I felt like I constantly had to supress myself to make sure I didn’t come across too feminine. Anything not traditionally male was just not accepted in my high school. It was such a toxic environment and I feel like it actually stunted my growth as a person. The future of gender doesn’t look like anything, because it doesn’t exist, because it doesn’t matter"
“As a gender non conforming trans person who’s not really concerned with passing it makes most of my day to day interactions with people quite confusing and it brings internal questions about my gender identity daily. An understanding that I would love for wider society to gain is that gender and sex are separate things and that gender and sexuality are separate things. The binaries of a gendered system have impacted almost everything in my life. As a child starting to dance, I was told that no matter my sexual identity, I must always ‘dance like a man’ and that the toys, games and clothes I wanted to wear were ‘only for girls’. Today, trans people still aren’t fully recognised and I work much less in the industry I trained in (Contemporary Dance) because call outs for auditions ask for ‘male or ‘female’ dancers and the expectations on the body are very specific leaving no space for queer, gender diverse bodies.”
“Not knowing there was such a thing as ‘non-binary’ until I was an adult led to a difficult adolescence as I struggled to understand why I felt so uncomfortable.”
“I feel like aspects such as my gender, ethnicity and sexuality are only a small part of who I am. They are the last things I mention about myself. I’m an athlete, a teacher and a friend. When I was younger, there was a good period of my life where I wondered if I was meant to be born a boy, as then I would have fit in.”
“Everything about the world we live in is gendered. Whether we choose to conform, reject, challenge or play with the rules of gender, these are the rules of a system that dictates our culture.”
“A binary gender system locks most possibilities found in our society into two opposite, mutually exclusive categories. In effect, this substantially reduces our freedom of expression and punishes those who don’t conform.”
“Gender is a toxic system so engrained and naturalised in our culture that most of it’s aspects pass as truths. We gender our babies before they are born, labelling them as boys or girls and we prescribe a whole framework expected to be right for them based on this assumption. This ranges from colors to clothes, toys, books, dreams and interests. We actively limit the possibilities of our unborn children and deprive them of the opportunity to freely express themselves. I want our next generation and everyone else to have the freedom to choose for themselves.”
To check out more of the incredible Gender Bender launch along with Vik's other work, head over to their website here
Viktoria Zuziak – Designer - IG: viktoriazuziak
Lisa Bornø - Photographer – IG: lisa_borno_photography
Sakeema Crook - Model – IG: sakeemathecrook
Ted Hopkins - Model – IG: teddyjackson_/
Natalie Harvey - Model -IG: -
Erika Kulikova – Model – IG: erikulikova/
Alfie Coates – Model – IG: alfieccoates/
Fae Magee – Model – IG: faemagee/