An Ode To Niche Fashion: "Why Can't I find Size 15 Men's Stilettos?" December 10 2015
As a student at Oberlin College, I was an attendee of its annual Drag Ball. It was a HUGE event that spanned almost the entire multilevel Wilder Hall Building. Since I was a cheerleader, friends with many athletes, and a regular at the gym, I was able to procure an old Oberlin College Basketball uniform once for the event. It was also a given that I received many requests from my guy friends for my Oberlin College Cheerleading and Catholic high school uniforms. Oberlin is a special place and those were fun times.
One of my fondest memories of Drag Ball are seeing various professors and the athletic director in drag, watching my very masculine male friends stumble about in their girlfriends' heels and asking for tips on how to shave their legs, not to mention the more seasoned drag participants lamenting about not being able to find proper size 15 men's stilettos. I remember thinking that I should "totally start a company that makes shoes for drag queens!" Even though I had my own issues finding fashion that fit my top heavy frame, I was empathetic to the plight of others.
I started Exclusively Kristen because I was tired of, as one 20 something put it, "dressing like an old lady." I couldn't find any stylish shirts or dresses that fit my 32G frame properly and, at the time, I lived in a small town so finding a good tailor required me to drive 45 minutes to the nearest city. The few stylish shirts I had came from Colombia, South America, but those were summer shirts. In the winter, I was relegated to sweaters and over-sized cardigans. I was frustrated, so I decided to do something about it.
I commend those entrepreneurs who see a void in the market and create something to fill it. Like Janet's Closet "A Cross-Dresser's Paradise" and Heels For You, both of which sell men's size 15 heels. With the recent news about Caitlyn Jenner and the activism of Janet Mock and Orange Is The New Black's Laverne Cox, issues surrounding trans women* are coming to the forefront. I'm interested to see how this will affect the evolution of fashion, particularly high fashion, for trans women and drag queens.
*Note that although there is some overlap, drag queens and trans women are not the same.