Update, 7/17/13: Now I can add my own to the list! I’m starting a line of clothing for tomboys called Scout’s Honor Clothing Co. I hope you love it as much as I do.
Lesson of the week: Google is not always the end-all, be-all of finding stuff on the internet. Sometimes you just gotta link surf. After my last post, a very helpful friend-of-a-friend pointed me in some good directions, and just by coincidence, later that day, someone on tomboy/femme style posted a link to Androgynous Fashion’s Kickstarter (see below). From there, everything opened up. Original Tomboy is still closest to my aesthetic, with Marimacho a close second, but here are some other companies that are part of this little zeitgeist:
There’s Haute Butch and Tomboy Fresh, both of which are fully launched. Both have what I think of (perhaps inaccurately) as more of a SoCal aesthetic. At the moment, Tomboy Fresh only sells tees, but their pulldown menu suggests that accessories and outerwear are either in the works or were available in the past. Haute Butch’s line is similarly limited to printed tees, hoodies and tanks, as well as hats and–this part is interesting–shoes! They appear to be growing their line, though: they’re coming out with a fall collection that I assume was designed in-house.
Then there’s Dapper Girl, which doesn’t really count since it doesn’t match my intended business model. From what I can tell, they’re purely middlepeople, importing a selection of products primarily from China and presenting it under the androgynous/butch umbrella. The site kind of makes my heart hurt; I’ve thought about some of the reasons for this, but I won’t get into them right now.
And then there are the two newly-minted companies so synchronous I need a mnemonic to remember which is which: Androgyny and Androgynous. Although their products don’t match my aesthetic exactly–and ultimately this is a good thing–they are targeting a similar demographic and doing so in a way that, so far anyway, appears to be working. Here’s a comparison:
Tagline: “Inspiring personal confidence one shirt at a time”
Conceived and produced in San Francisco (hooray).
Kickstarter: raised $16,575 in 45 days on a $10,000 goal. 174 backers. $95 average pledge. Kickstarter ended July 23, 2012.
They describe their product as “A men’s aesthetic re-engineered to accommodate the female form” and a “flawless blend of feminine and masculine touches.” (from the kickstarter page) Nothing is for sale on their website yet, but it looks like the only products they’ll be offering for now are button-down shirts, although there was some mention of suits on their facebook page, and vests and jackets show up in some of their facebook photos. Price points on shirts range from $125 to $200. The low end is the same as Taylor Stitch, and from what I understand, Taylor Stitch is doing really well.
Tagline: “Staying true to yourself”
Conceived and produced in LA
Kickstarter:raised $22,148 in 30 days on a $10,000 goal. 268 backers. $83 average pledge. Kickstarter ended August 28, 2012.
They describe their product as “Simply elegant, classy, clean-cut menswear made to fit women.” (from the kickstarter page) Nothing is for sale on their website yet. Their product line is extensive and includes pants, button-downs, vests and jackets. The button-downs come in a variety of designs (though they’re probably all the same basic pattern). Price points on button-downs are considerably lower than Androgyny’s–$55-$85–and if I’m reading the copy correctly, the owners intend to produce the garments themselves. Plus they’re offering custom sizing on their kickstarter rewards. From everything I’ve learned about the garment making industry in the past, um, 7 months (read: this is a non-professional opinion), that seems REALLY ambitious.
Their product line is more creative than Androgyny’s, a little more modern. Seeing the shirts photographed flat on the kickstarter page, I didn’t really “get” them, but after flipping through their photo album on facebook, they make a lot more sense, and are hella sexy. HOWEVER, looking through that album, something was rubbing me the wrong way, and I finally figured it out. The kickstarter is all about how frustrating traditional womenswear can be for androgynous-leaning shoppers, because it’s so often cut to create and/or accentuate shape. So the designers created garments that “are not formfitting, don’t taper at the waist and hips, and there [are] no darts where the chest is.” (from the kickstarter page) I realized what was bugging me about the photos was that all the models are shaped like boys: tall and skinny with little to no bust or hips. What happens when you put these dart-free, taper-free shirts on women with boobs? Obviously, people can make clothes for whomever they want; obviously, tall and skinny is the standard for models in the industry in general. I just think it would have been nice for them to show us what a woman with curves who has that same desire to wear menswear-style clothing looks like in this line. Does it work on her, or does it only work on people who could probably get away with wearing menswear anyway? And if not, what’s the point?
Another question: what factors led to Androgynous having a more successful Kickstarter campaign? Obviously, both were successful, but Androgynous raised about $6500 more in two-thirds the time. Lower price points? A more extensive line? More traditionally sexy models? Better marketing? (The link from tomboy/femme style certainly didn’t hurt, but they were already well past their goal when it was posted.)