A Staten Island mom is opening up doors of inclusivity for transgender women with the start of her own lingerie line. After her daughter Lily came out as transgender in 2014, mom Karyn Bello and her family worked to make sure their new daughter felt comfortable and safe. Now in 2021, Karyn has opened her own lingerie line specifically for transgender women so they can feel like their most beautiful selves, comfortably.
Bello hopes this new business venture will be a good example for other parents. “They’re meant to help trans women navigate through the world and through their clothes comfortably without having to worry,” Bello told SILive.com. “They’re much more accessible and safe for them to be wearing.” The name of the line Zhe, meant to reference the gender neutral pronoun, was made with transgender women’s bodies in mind.
The key part of this lingerie is the built-in “tucking” technology. Tucking – a term known as hiding the genitalia to make the area look more feminine. According to Bello, she wanted to create undergarments without duct tape and adhesives that made tucking safer without the risk of UTIs.
“They’re just bad for your health,” Bello said. “I was coming at it from a mom’s perspective. I want you to be healthy and take care of yourself, too.”
Before creating a fashion line, Bello was a stay-at-home mom. She decided to pursue her passion for fashion once her kids were older and attended the Parson’s School of Design at The New School. The idea for her current line came about when she was shopping with Lily and realized there was a need and demand for clothing for women like her daughter. Over the course of four years, Bello created prototypes and samples to fit the model in mind. She even talked with other transgender women to gauge their needs and what they were looking for in clothing.
As of now, Zhe is live online and offers four types of underwear and two types of bras. Bello says she’s working on adding in other fabrics like cotton for everyday wear, athletic and swimwear and even yoga pants. Bello also runs a blog on her experiences and hopes it will act as a resource for other parents whose children are transitioning.