This season, in partnership with filmmaker and artist, Tourmaline, the collection focused on cut and structure, influenced by the trans experience of Marsha P. Johnson, who coincidentally met a lover at Riis beach. Both Tourmaline and founder Becca McCharen-Tran have worked on several Marsha-inspired films and projects in the past. To pay tribute to the late activist during the show, hair and makeup was created from archival photos of Johnson, with flowers in the hair and heavy blush on the cheeks.
The all-red collection—a reference to lifeguards, protection, vibrant cherries, and red-hot summers—featured shorts, skirts, monokinis, and swim bottoms with soft package pouches and matching bikini tops for girls who don’t tuck, a term used to secure the goods behind the legs so that it’s not visible from the front of the body. “In the past it has been expected for trans women and femmes to look a certain way and to conform to binary cis-normative expectations,” McCharen-Tran tells Byrdie. “With this collection, we are challenging these notions on how trans bodies should present, we’re making room and options for each person to present in a way that feels comfortable and true to themselves, from tucking to packing to not tucking.”
In addition to girls who don’t tuck, trans femmes, non-binary people, women, men, and anyone else who embraces Collective Opulence Celebrating Kindred (C.O.C.K.), Chromat and Tourmaline’s catchphrase for the season, are also invited to wear Chromat.
Not only were the clothing and models inclusive, but so was the show's location. The decision to show at New York’s Jason Riis Park Beach, also known as The People’s Beach, was not random. Since the 1940s, the LGBTQ community has used the beach as their favorite place to sunbathe, and it’s become home to femme, masc, genderfluid Black and brown people, and everyone in between.
While the #ChromatBABES confidently walked down the boardwalk, beachgoers were able to share the excitement and freedom of the moment—something you don’t always get at the stiff, invite-only Manhattan fashion shows.
Model Ericka Hart, who underwent a double mastectomy in 2014 after being diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer, proudly walked the runway with her mastectomy scars on full display. “Fashion weeks put such a high premium on whose body is worthy to be seen,” she shared on Instagram. “There’s no way you can be a part of the fashion world and not critique it.”
Plus size models and true diversity are few and far between during fashion week. With inclusion and diversity trending at an all-time high, it’s easy to recognize the brands who are racing to change up their casting or expand sizes to their collections—joining the tribe merely for clout. It's also equally easy to discern which brand (emphasis on the singular) has inclusivity in its DNA. With the mission to celebrate freedom and stand in the gap, Chromat has been designing with inclusivity in mind since its inception in 2010. McCharen-Tran understands the population is reflective of way more than white, cis, able-bodied and thin models, the Eurocentric standard of thinking that the fashion industry has always followed.
If the rise of conversations around individuality and self-expression is any indication, Chromat will only continue to lead the way. Without any asterisk, people need to be seen. Chromat is the brand that is not only allowing that, but encouraging it.