When I started developing the line I hope to launch to launch next fall, it had a target audience of exactly one–me–so, by default, it was a womenswear line. Over the last few months I’ve been following various companies who are doing more or less what I want to do: making clothing in shapes, colors, and styles that we traditionally associate with menswear, and cutting them to fit people with hips and/or boobs and/or small frames. These companies include Androgyny, Androgynous, Kreuzbach10, Marimacho, Original Tomboy, and recently, Saint Harridan. (Saint Harridan launched their pre-order Kickstarter campaign about two weeks ago and have already well exceeded their $87,000 goal. Wow!)
A few days before their Kickstarter began, I was reading the “Words” page of the Saint Harridan site and had a pretty strong reaction to one of the comments there–or, rather, to the /tone/ of the comment. I actually agree with the commenter’s main point. But, without getting further into it, because each time I try I wind up writing a half-dozen paragraphs that will probably make you go ZZzzzzZZZZzzz, I’ll say this: I think it’s a bummer that (it seems to me) the harder someone tries to be open and inclusive, the more they set themselves up to be attacked.
Reading these “Words,” and the comments they provoked, got me thinking even more about the language I will use to describe the garments in my line. And it got me curious about how the other companies I’ve identified talk about their customers, so here, in rough order of company launch, are some more words:
Marimacho: on their About page, they describe their products as “fashion for the unconventionally masculine,” then go on to describe how they’ve modified the cut of traditional menswear to the fit the “diverse bodies” of their customers.
Original Tomboy: on their About page, they write that this is a “collection designed for women who re-define what it means to dress ‘like a girl’, creating a forward yet timeless option for fit and style.” They don’t say anything about whether/how they’ve modified the fit of typical garments.
Androgyny: their Kickstarter describes the frustration “queer women” and “women outside the queer community” feel when unable to find clothing that fits their identity and makes them feel comfortable, and they state that their products “offer a men’s aesthetic re-engineered for the female form.”
Androgynous: on their Kickstarter, they suggest that their target audience is “women who don’t fit into the societal “feminine” category [and] have never been able to find clothing made just for them.” Their products are “Simply elegant, classy, clean-cut menswear made to fit women.”
Kruezbach 10: according to their indiegogo page, “Kreuzbach 10 makes men’s shirts, cut to fit women’s bodies.” They go on to comment that they “don’t like to say we make women’s shirts….Our shirts are designed to be straight up what you’d expect to find in the men’s department….However unlike shirts in the men’s department Kreuzbach10 shirts are cut to fit female bodies.”
Finally, Saint Harridan, who sent me down this rabbithole, from the opening of their Words page: “We who are attracted to the clothes at Saint Harridan use many different words to describe ourselves. We use words like stud, butch or boi among many others. Some of us embrace the word woman, others like man, some prefer neither or both.” On the Kickstarter, the only mention of their potential customers’ gender is in the video, when they say they want to make suits for “her…or her…or him…or her…or you.” In talking about fit, they mention that they “size for Saints with breasts and no breasts.”
Even though I’ve spent a gazillion hours on all their sites, and have read their copy a gazillion times, I was surprised to discover that 4 of the 6 companies market themselves specifically and exclusively to women. I like what Marimacho is doing, just sort of sidestepping the issue and letting the customers decide whether these clothes are for them. I’d like to try to emulate this in my own copy; however, I’m very attached to my branding slogan, which uses the word ‘tomboy,’ which, as this reader of tomboy/femme points out, is not an inclusive term. Blurg. Thoughts, world?