In the last couple of years, fashion has brought lesbians our very own ‘culture clothing’ – clothes specifically designed to target our subcultures and communities with an ideologically sensitive style. Other communities have had this for a while, and it seems now that queer girls are getting a slice of the action.
Brands such as Veer NYC, Cloth & Justice and Wildfang offer unisex, ‘tomboy’ or androgynous clothing that seems to appeal directly to the lesbian consumer. Veer NYC has, in particular, managed to reach a vast audience of lesbians desperate for a taste of culture clothing.
The packaging of these clothes is smart: we’re presented with clothes that seem sensitive to our culture, and mission statements which declare a daring defiance against gender norms in fashion. These clothing brands, it seems, are on our side.
Except, are they? Perusing the websites of these brands, it seems that these pro-queer, pro-trouser fashions may only be accessible to the power dykes of The L Word. I mean, did I really just see that the price of that olive waxed jacket was $240?
And therein lies the first problem. What these brands are presenting, basically, is a fashion culture that many queer people can never afford – people like me, for one. You want to appeal to our community, but charge high-end prices. You say you’re creating a community but don’t let us slip away – price is just part of it.
Don’t take it personally, you’re all just following the lead of your competitors. I get it. Your marketing is shrewd and, actually, really rather cool. (Wildfang, for instance, are using famous faces such as Katherine Moening to promote their brand, and are creating a bunch of well produced advertisements.) These things do cost money – but please remember that we need labels we can afford. Not every LGBT+ person sleeps on a dragon’s pile of pink pounds.
Then there’s the question of the styles on offer themselves. Throughout my hours of scrawling through online shops, I must say, the actual styles offered by culture clothing brands doesn’t always appeal to me and seem reductive. Perhaps it’s because I have lived in London, and have that typical ‘East End’ or ‘English stiff collar’ approach. But for brands that profess an affinity with lesbians, these culture clothing labels should try harder to appeal to the fashions we want to wear – setting trends rather than following them. The use of men’s styles incorporating women’s tailoring is a fantastic idea, and a very marketable one, but it would be nice to see innovation and a price tag we can afford.
The sad truth is I could go to Primark and customise pieces of clothing myself and create something just as good as some of these clothes. Okay, that was shady, but I feel like if you’re going to market yourselves to us, then you should listen to us. I want lesbian culture clothes to be so exciting that I feel it’s worthwhile supporting you. That’s the point of targeting communities, right? So that we support you, and prefer to buy from you over other brands. In return you need to support us – with some killer style at killer prices.
Here’s my suggestion: how about you take a look at the trends in the UK, particularly concentrating on the trends in London’s queer communities and the cutting edge DIY scene of Manchester, and give us some good quality, fairly priced glad rags to get excited about.
Brands, to put it politely: please, please, please get your shit together.
My hope? For an English lesbian brand to be born that can truly give us identity without breaking the bank, creating an actual separate trend for ‘lesbian fashion’ that doesn’t just take already well-worn styles and dress them up as ‘for dykes’.