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Local designer Richard Dayhoff brings gender neutrality to collection
by Vee L. Harrison

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One thing that makes Chicago's fashion scene distinct is the variety of designers and their own signature styles.

Richard Dayhoff is one of several designers in the Windy City, but he cannot be mistaken for any other. Born in Rockford, Illinois, Dayhoff ( a member of the LGBT community ) is known for his elegant designs—even when it comes to his line of performance men's underwear. For more than 20 years, his designs have been sold in more than 300 retail stores across the country, including Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Dayhoff's designs have been featured in Elle, Glamour and Men's Style, to name a few publications. In addition, he's earned the bragging rights of dressing industry icons like Oprah Winfrey and co-hosting the NBC show Fashion Police. He's not new to the industry. Yet, he always seems to stay abreast with what the industry needs.

Recently, Dayhoff has debuted an element in fashion that will change the game and is definitely what the industry needs: He has begun to create clothes that are gender-neutral, and created a platform for the LGBTQ community to immerse and identify freely with his designs.

"People are just more comfortable as time goes on," Dayhoff told Windy City Times. "When you look at fashion, it really does say where we are as a culture. People are more comfortable expressing themselves. There are more choices."

He recently made this conclusion while debuting some of his designs at the Runway Latino X fashion show, a Latino-focused event in Chicago.

"The runway at this show was about transformation. The message was to transform and uplift and that resonated with me," said Dayhoff.

At the show, Dayhoff made an impact using his minimalist designs and featuring new models who had never walked the runway before, including transgender men and women.

"As a society, we've been educated," said Dayhoff. "Me being a gay man, I see all the work we've done through the years to create platforms and let people know. I think it's just a time where I think we had to address where there wasn't just black and white. There is all this gray area. Just like sexuality. There's straight, there's gay. But there's a lot of in between. As a society we only recognized black or white. Now we realized that there's a lot of in between stuff. So, it's interesting times for fashion. It's fun."

Dayhoff said he believes that creating opportunities for the LGBTQ and non-conforming people is important as a designer.

He said, "As an artist, you can play around with a lot more things, and do a lot more things on the runway that maybe in the past you wouldn't. We can shake it up a little bit. It's okay—that model is transgender; let's put that person on the runway. Why not?

"I always consider my designs as a prop. You then use that to turn it around to be able to benefit others in some way by being able to provide a platform where people can take note and listen."

To explore more of Dayhoff's designs, visit .

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