An Ode to Niche Fashion Companies November 19 2015
I recently saw a statistic stating that fashion is made for 17% of the population. Even though the average bra size in the USA is a 34DD, 67% of women are plus size, and an estimated 700,000 people are transgender, the fashion needs of these groups have largely been ignored. Even though these numbers are substantial (especially plus size), brands that cater to these segments of the population are, interestingly, considered niche. But have no fear, there are "niche" brands answering the calls of consumers. Below I will highlight some emerging and established fashion companies that, like Exclusively Kristen, cater to underserved aesthetics and body types.
Menswear-Inspired Clothes For Female Bodies
Laura and Kelly Moffat founded Kirrin Finch, which will launch in Spring 2016, because "...we couldn't find clothes that fit our style. As women who gravitate towards button-up shirts and bow ties, we are often frustrated because women's clothes are too frilly and men's clothes just don't fit. We are making menswear-inspired styles fit for a range of female bodies." I've seen samples of their shirts and the fabric is high quality with interesting patterns that aren't usually available in the women's department. I'm excited to see what Kirrin Finch will offer when it launches.
Kipper Clothiers was founded by Erin Berg and has a brick and mortar store in San Francisco. The company specializes in custom menswear-inspired suits and button up shirts for female bodies, but has recently offered ready-to-wear apparel in preppy, collegiate-inspired styles. According to its website: "As a woman who exclusively wears men's clothes it is often very difficult to find shirts, let alone suits, that even remotely fit. Putting on a (Kipper) shirt that is made specifically for you is an incomparable experience and the level of care and attention they take with each individual client sets them apart."
Menswear For Tall and Athletic Men
I recently met John Reynolds, Co-Founder and CEO of RFM, and we talked about his disdain for the concept of "big and tall" menswear. Big & Tall cater to just that: BIG (read: overweight) and tall. Not all men who are 6'0"+ are 300 lbs and the brands that offer slimmer, tall sizes base their proportions on 5'10" men, so the fit is usually off. John and Co-Founder, Kevin Flammia, founded RFM because of "...the incredible personal frustration of finding clothes that fit our frames. We are both former college athletes - tall and athletically-built...but there isn't an apparel brand in existence that is focused on creating cultivated, enduring style for this modern athletic man. The perception that branded retailers are inclusive of all body types is well-intentioned, but highly deceiving. Not all men in America are 5'10", 165lbs - there are more than a few athletically-built guys out there, as well!" Unlike other brands, RFM's sizing and proportions are based on the actual anthropometric analysis of taller men. According to John: "Trying to utilize linear grading in pattern development and clothing fit is outdated and misguided. The fact that ASTM clothing grades have largely remained the same since WWII is pretty shocking. We felt that using data science and regression analysis to provide more realistic and intelligent sizing was the right way to build our collection." RFM will launch on December 1, but interested parties can sign up for pre-orders now via the company's mailing list. I'm really excited about this brand and am happy to hear that RFM has been contacted by college sports teams and the stylists' of pro athletes. A perfect match!
I'm so glad that there are emerging fashion brands that cater to underserverd body types and expanding gender norms. I hope that body inclusiveness and the fluidity of gender in fashion become a trend. Stay tuned...I will be writing about other niche fashion brands in the near future.