Where do tomboys shop?

Mary Badham as Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbirg

Scout Finch, patron saint of toms

I’m taking a class called Creating a Garment Business, which I’m really excited about, because, um, I’d like to create a garment business. For our first assignment, we had to do an overview of a product line we’d like to create, and I decided to focus on tomboy style–it’s a look I like, a look a lot of my friends wear, and I’d love to put my own spin on.

Are you my future customer? from tomboy/femme style

The biggest challenge of this assignment was figuring out who my competition is. Alicia Hardesty, a current Project Runway contestant, is coming out with a line called Original Tomboy, but besides her, I had a really hard time finding indie designers or lines that focus exclusively on this look. Which surprised me, because the look is everywhere, and there’s no shortage of imagery available. I’m specifically thinking of two blogs: Tomboy Style and tomboy/femme style. Tomboy Style seems to be more focused on products, and may wind up being a good research resource, while tomboy/femme style is just this lovely inundation of images. So much inspiration. So much plaid. (I ❤ plaid, so this is a good thing.)

After a few hours of research (with many, many more to go), I determined that I have two major competitor-types. The first is nationwide chains with a preppy aesthetic like J Crew, Banana Republic and American Eagle Outfitters; the other is thrift stores. Especially thrift stores. My target customer (who is basically me) shops at thrift stores for two reasons: first, because she doesn’t have a ton of disposable income, and second, because she wants to be unique.

Brooklyn Blazer from Marimacho

The Brooklyn Blazer from Marimacho

If these women are managing to put together this look on their own, often on the cheap, is there a market for my line? YES! My customers don’t have a go-to store or line where they know they’ll find stuff that fits their style. To paraphrase my friend Z responding to my comment that you can find this look at J Crew: “Yeah, but you have to dig for it. It’s really hard. Sometimes it can be rewarding, but most of the time it’s a pain in the ass.” I won’t be setting out to please everyone, or, for that matter, to be the only place my customer shops. What I want to do it create a small collection of pieces I know my customer will love, and a brand they know they can come back to. That won’t be so hard, will it?

Oh! Z and another friend also pointed me toward Marimacho, and I’m excited to keep an eye on them. I love the Brooklyn Blazer. However, the fact that they didn’t come up on any of my searches really drives home the importance of good SEO.

Any tips on where to find tomboywear? Any favorite independent designers? I don’t like thinking of them as “future competitors,” so how about “kindred spirits”/”people I can learn from”?

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