How the Complicated Tank Top Became the Unofficial Queer Going-Out Top

But it’s also not that deep: “Dancing makes you sweat, so the less you are wearing, the better” said Lee. The Australian designer has been selling diaphanous layered tanks and second-skin tops with biomorphic cutouts for years. At first, he said, he was simply trying to make what he couldn’t find on the market: sexy tops for men. Now, he sells many of his tanks as part of a unisex collection, which was a “natural progression to evolve the category and brand language, rather than intentionally targeting any certain demographic.”

The Nigerian-American designer Kingsley Gbadegesin who launched K.nglsey in 2020 with a run of genderless tank tops with artfully placed cutouts and asymmetric shoulder straps. The idea, he said, was to put Black, queer, femme, and trans people at the forefront of fashion—“the girls,” as he lovingly refers to our queer community.

“The tank has to serve three purposes: going to the office, wearing it on the dance floor, and wearing it to dinner,” Gbadegesin said. Their versatility has made them ripe for mainstream adoption. “Brands that don’t have the girls at their core or in mind have been trying to co-opt that fantasy, but it doesn’t work the same,” said Gbadegesin.