By Herb Sosa


Showcasing the Talent, Vision and Possibilities
within the transgender & gender non-conforming
community, the annual TRANSART Artists
Showcase & Conference brings together a
collection of talents, individuals & artistic genres
to create awareness, nurture aspiring artists and
enlighten the general population about the many
layers of this community.

As part of this 3 day event, the incredibly
talented CHAPLIN TYLER will present their
collection of gender fluid clothing and
accessories on Friday, January 26th, 6pm.
at the Jackie Gleason Room at the
Fillmore Theatre in Miami Beach.

Leading up to this event, AMBIENTE had a chance
for a exclusive one on one with Chaplin, and this
is how it went...

What is it about fashion and design that appeals
to you?
I'm always attracted to something that seems
outside of my realm of knowledge, a piece of
clothing, an aesthetic, a song, a particular painting.
Within fashion and design, I always find myself
drawn to something that seems a little off the
beaten path, unafraid, something that is going to
challenge my standard of beauty, or "wearability".
When I was a young teen I got so excited
whenever the shows would come out because
the pendulum always swung so far. I also think
that fashion, along with design, art, etc are
important mediums that can create a platform
that is going to enchant or contest people's idea
of what is acceptable, especially what is beautiful.
When I was 12 years old, I started spiking my hair,
wore nothing but black, tons of eyeliner, pounds
of jewelry. I was the ONLY person in my 6th grade
class who looked that way. Even though I look
back at those pictures and sometimes cringe,
I like to think that being that young and
experimenting with fashion the way that I did,
helped inform my current temperament in some
way or another.

Who do you design for?
I spent a lot of time answering this question
when I worked for more corporate design companies. Calvin Klein, Reebok, Macy's, just to name a few. It was always such a stifling
question. I honestly don't like answering this question because it seems that whatever the answer, it's limiting. Ultimately, I think about the
way in which I admire certain creatives, I'm willing to follow them through any journey. I'd like to think that the individual I design for is also
willing to take risks, someone who is rebellious, and ultimately someone who is going to appreciate what I've created, regardless if it's a
departure of something I've done previously that they used to know.

I've always been interested in fashion. I remember before I went to New York,
I remember seeing Hedi Slimane design for Dior Homme. I think in a way it
was my first introduction to androgyny within the industry. The models he
chose were very feminine, waif-like, as were the clothes. This is what sparked
by interest in menswear At the time I wasn't transitioning, but it was definitely a
catalyst when I look back at it. I wanted to do menswear because I felt it could
be revolutionized, and emasculated.

Give me your thoughts on gender-specific clothing…
I think that if you break down gender roles, which are assigned to us at birth, and you really start to question
how culturally and socially it is assigned to us, it inevitable becomes arbitrary. I work at a luxury vintage
store and often I'll get men that come in and ask "Do you guys
only have women's or is there menswear too?" Often my answer
is, "Well, we have both, but what is gender anyway?" and then
I'll laugh, and see if I've caused a spark in their head, but most
times I'll just get a blank expression or nervous laugh back, lol.
If men were taught that it's okay to wear dresses or skirts than we wouldn't have
gender specific clothing at all. People would be more interested in the cut, fabric,
design, whatever. Because gender is so binary, clothing, as a result, is too. It's only until
these beliefs are dismantled that we're truly going to have genderless or gender non specific
clothing. People won't look at each other and have an expectation of what a trans/cis man or
trans/cis woman should be wearing.

3 things I NEVER leave home without


My phone

Sometimes a razor (in case I need to shave lol)

What makes an outfit, successful?
I have my own rules that I like that are personal.
All black, print on print, less is more, more is more, playing with proportion, layering, elements
of deconstruction. Sometimes I tie my big sweaters or jackets around my waist and it feel's 90's
or like I'm wearing a big couture skirt lol--- I think it works. Honestly, what makes an outfit
successful is knowing that you believe in it, and also not following the pack. I hate when people
talk about trends for the season. People should be creating trends, not following them. I also
mix designer pieces, and things I find from Goodwill, or things that I make myself. Often times,
people that are decked out head to toe in designer shit, I think, have the worst style.

Tell me about your inspirations, and what can we expect from you in the near future?
I get so inspired by different things. I've always been very inspired by music and film. I played cello for about
10 years. I also have 3 older sisters, two of which are 16 years older than me. I grew up listening to their 80's
music, new wave, punk, grunge. My mom also used to bring home a ton of VHS movies like Jawbreaker, the
Craft, the Labyrinth, many movies that I was too young to see but watched anyway. They were so informing
o me creatively. I remember being so enamored by music and motion pictures, seeing how a whole mood
could be curated by sound and imagery. Whenever I hear songs, often I'm thinking about if I could hear it on
a runway, or imagine my friends slowly posing and enticing a camera. I just saw this movie "Cat People"
which is an erotic 80s horror movie with Natassia Kinski, and the movie score is done by Giorgio Moroder and
David Bowie. I had been listening to the score, long before seeing the movie. Once I saw the film, I thought "This would be an amazing
inspiration for a collection."

Has transitioning influenced your designs?
I'm trained in menswear and womenswear. I've worked in the
industry doing both. I think once I started transitioning, I stopped
wanting to work in menswear industry, just because it didn't
seem appropriate because it wasn't how I was expressing my
gender and because there was no room to play. Now that I work
on my own collection, I do think about both more. Obviously with
most transgender women and trans femmes, much of your time
is devoted to your appearance and how "passable" or "feminine"
you look. I know that as a designer, I may not always have the
most hyper femme pieces because of my background in
menswear. However, I think this is where transitioning has
influenced me as a designer. I'm still going to have pieces that
are oversized, boxy, tailored with a more menswear aesthetic,
but it shouldn't mean that you can't feel feminine when
embodying the clothes.  

How does the fashion world respond to a designer who is
Will you ask them and let me know? lol. I used to model for a
designer named Gogo Graham, she's amazing and I modeled
for her for a couple of seasons. She had features written about
the collections from Dazed and Confused, Vogue, I-D, etc. I'd
like to think the industry is genuinely interested because there
is new talent and a new perspective. How many trans designers
can most people usually name, none. Because there are so
few of us in the public, hopefully that gives us some leverage.
I used to work with my friend Austin who is the creative director
for Sir New York, he also has been welcomed with open arms.
Its hard though, trans/non binary folks are usually placed in a
lower income bracket so the thought of even having the finances
to produce a collection seem impossible when you're just trying
to survive day to day. The industry has been nice to me as a
designer, but when I modeled it was difficult. You still have
people misgender you, not pay you on time, etc. I've had
agencies ask me in a forceful way "well which division do
you want? men or women?!" It was gross.

The one person you would most like to dress, and why?
It wouldn't be a celebrity. I'd love to shoot my entire family
in pieces from the show lol, including my nephews. It would
be a great character study.

Tell me about your upcoming presentation at TransArt?
What may we expect?
It's definitely a departure. The first collection I showed at
Faena with Jonathan Miranda, it was much more streamlined.
Lot's of black, shiny fabrics and sequins, a bit futuristic, very clean. This collection is way more deconstructed and feels more cerebral in a

I deconstructed a lot of pieces that I found, put them back together, left pieces unraveling. In a way, its definitely a reflection on manic
feelings I was having, and all in all was a completely different process. With Faena, we patterned everything, draped, beaded, finished,
everything seemed seamless. This collection is very muddy colors, menswear fabrics, deconstructed and unfurling elements, its definitely
more chaotic and I'm into the progression. It has a 1950's workforce woman gone psycho feeling. I like to see the importance more of
having trans and non binary models too, when I think about exposure in that way, and the design philosophy I have regarding challenging
norms, the clothing almost becomes secondary, the identities in those clothes are what really make it shine.

For more info on TRANSRT, please visit:

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JANUARY | 2018