Born female, Dan was raised a boy until the age of 12. Her father made the decision due to the extreme preferences of males in China. Now she’s creating a menswear collection to fully express her confusing childhood.
Named DANSHAN, the first collection launched this spring, featuring feminine underwear and loungewear for men. The collection includes silk satin robes and two-piece pajama sets.
Dan formed the brand with fellow Central Saint Martins grad Shan on the foundation of the archaic gender roles in China and hoping to break down barriers.
Talking with i-D, she explained, “Gender is everything in China. It is the foundation of the society, forms the boundaries of social rules and expectation of an individual.”
Dan proceeded to describe her childhood, which was full of torment and bullying as her classmates began to discover she was not the male she was presented as.
“Being brought up as a boy, it meant I had to put a lot of effort in to win relatives’ approval; I was embarrassed to show my legs because it was full of scars from the boyish sports that I was encouraged to play that I didn’t even like. I was paranoid when one of the only two dresses I had before I turned 12 was cut open, leading to a bullying accusation against a teacher.
I was confused and didn’t know how to get on with girls as all my best friends were boys. The hardest thing was when I had to learn how to make friends with girls as a teen, I was bullied and avoided because of what they thought my sexuality was.
It wasn’t easy for me, because I had to be someone I wasn’t. Though fortunately I now understand how hard it is to be a boy. The traditional values and boundaries of masculinity don’t allow you to be openly emotional and vulnerable, which I believe is the most beautiful aspect of humanity.”
Wow. Just, wow. We’re so impressed Dan is able to put all her experiences into her new collection.