Non-binary fashion icon Jamie Windust shares their secret to living – and dressing – unapologetically
Non-binary trailblazer Jamie Windust opens up about their journey of expression through fashion, and their groundbreaking new partnership with iconic shoe brand Clarks.
In the year 2022, it should be clear to everyone that all of us – no matter our identity – can look and dress however we want. Fashion has a fascinating, complicated relationship to LGBTQ+ self-expression, and experimenting with different aesthetics and subverting gender norms is something that has connected many queer people over the decades.
And now that younger queer people can easily connect with each other online, and access so much information about LGBTQ+ history and culture, a new generation of pathbreakers are using fashion to express themselves in different ways.
Author, broadcaster and model Jamie Windust is someone who has emerged as a new figurehead for many young LGBTQ+ people. They’re a model, editor, author of an acclaimed book, In Their Shoes, and a powerful advocate for a less gendered, more colourful world. They’re also one of the founding members of the Clarks Collective – a group of activists and artists working with the shoe brand to champion change and self-expression.
As a non-binary person, Jamie says that fashion has been an integral part of their journey of discovery.
“It was as if fashion was the key in the lock for me,” Jamie says.
“When I didn’t have the language to describe my gender identity, when I was a teenager, I used fashion as a language in a way to translate how I was feeling.”
Before Jamie identified as non-binary, or even before they properly understood what it meant to be trans, they used fashion to explore their different sides.
“Fashion was a way of exploring the gender binary, but it also allowed me to find a community of people who were like me, back in the days before I moved to London.”
Jamie is bringing their colourful, defiant style and unapologetic sense of self as they join the Clarks Collective.
After 200 years in the shoe-making business, Clarks is committed to leaving a legacy – to empower people to step forward as their authentic, whole selves. The collective spans inspiring leaders pushing for change on issues such as racial equality, mental health awareness, LGBTQ+ advocacy and human rights – imagining a world without barriers, which is full of more possibilities for all of us.
Along with Jamie, the group includes actor Gabriella Wilde, influencer Vas Morgan, activist Jeannie Jay Park and documentarian Basma Khalifa.
For Jamie, their membership to the collective is specifically meaningful because footwear was their first foray into visually experimenting with different types of aesthetics.
“The first very femme thing I ever bought was a red pair of suede boots,” Jamie remembers. “I bought them under my duvet at home, on my laptop, secretly ordering ‘women’s’ shoes. It was the first time that I put myself in shoes like that and thought: ‘Oh, this is fun!’ It was the beginning of a long exploration.”
That journey has brought Jamie to a place where they have embraced the things that make them different, and are proud of them, and they are excited for people of all walks of life and different ages to see the collective’s campaign in stores.
“I hope that it inspires conversation. I think children are incredibly well-meaning and inquisitive. Unlike some adults, their questions come from a place of wanting to learn, rather than wanting to disprove,” Jamie says. “I hope the campaign allows young people to understand that there’s no one way that they can express themselves.”
This goes to the core of Jamie’s ethos: that there is no one way for anyone to look. And there is no one way that any gender identity should be experienced. “A lot of people might think that, if you’re queer or non-binary, you have to dress really androgynous or femme, but that’s not the case,” Jamie says. “Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s any one way to look, because there’s many ways to look as there are people. It is powerful to be who you are without explanation.”
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