feminist fashion? feminaust fashion!

a4bf221b-e869-4a1f-b201-0f9bb73007b0-4710So, like I said in my Welcome to Tuesday! I spent the weekend of Friday 4th/Saturday 5th October hanging out at the Finders Keepers Market in Melbourne helping my cousin out with her first market stall for her newly launched fashion label CharlieBoy. So naturally beware that there will be shameless-family-promotion in this article but also much analysis.

Hanging with my cuz and talking to her customers, many of whom knew the product already and came looking for it at the market, made me think about whether or not there is feminist fashion, and if so, what IS feminist fashion? Being a scientifically minded (sometimes) gal, I went about considering it in a linear, simple, list like way.

What is feminism and therefore what is feminist fashion?

For me feminism is (among many things) the following;

Social Justice

So feminist fashion would need to have a social justice element…. feminist fashion would have to be “no sweat“, with a zero tolerance approach to worker exploitation and a desire to support and enhance local manufacturing through fair wages, workers rights and quality products.

Environmental Sustainability

feminist fashion would have a focus on quality that lasts, and not subscribe to a cheap, “throwaway culture”. And in addition to that would need to have a timelessness, that supports continued wear, despite the trends of the day. This could mean new clothes that last and last both fashionably or quality wise or an emphasis on reusing and recycling other peoples clothes to give a garment a new life.

Rejecting Gender Boundaries

feminist fashion would reject gendered clothing, demanding that clothes be built for the body that wants to wear them trasgressing gendered understandings of who wears what.

Inclusive and Genuine

feminist fashion would be designed and modeled by all body shapes and sizes without a focus on what traditional models can wear but a focus on what real human beings can wear and feel good about. feminist fashion would include people with all body types and styles and would celebrate this fact by using imagery and models that represent that.

Practical

feminist fashion would be practical. Suitable for taking over the world, hosting a corporate fundraiser, doing your job, whatever that might be, and lounging about drinking too much wine and discussing important things like who’s gonna win X Factor with your friends. feminist fashion needs to work for you, in your life, doing whatever it is that you do in clothes.

slide-image-4Clearly this isn’t an exhaustive list, perhaps feminist fashion would be animal free as well, perhaps it isn’t feminist unless it is actively subverting the dominant paradigm. Whatever feminist fashion is to you, I think I’ve found my feminaust fashion in my own backyard. Or at least, that’s where she was on Friday morning, playing with my puppy Harriet (named after the great Harriet Chalmers Adams, female explorer extrodinare).

Beware; what follows could easily be described as an advertorial for my cousin’s fashion label CharlieBoy. I beg feminausts everywhere forgiveness but I also think what she’s doing is super cool, shared DNA or not.

So I found what I am considering a good example of specfically feminaust fashion in my cousin’s work at CharlieBoy. According to the website;

CharlieBoy is a new gender of clothing encouraging freedom for women to express themselves through the way they dress and experiment with tomboy and androgynous style.

It’s Rejecting Gender Boundaries a4bf221b-e869-4a1f-b201-0f9bb73007b0-4734

CharlieBoy is about freedom for women to express themselves through the way they dress and leave behind the rule-bound world of gender codes.
We don’t like discrimination or boundaries, be it: race, religion, family, sexual orientation or gender.
We want to give women the opportunity to experiment with their personal style.

It’s focussed on Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability

All CharlieBoy clothing is Australian designed and made and we plan to keep it that way. Our pieces are ethically produced in limited editions with finishing touches by the designer.

It’s also Practical

As women, we no longer have to abide by the dress codes of former generations. Menswear looks sharp and is beautifully crafted and we can wear it too. We just have to address the ‘fit’ issue which we are working hard at to get just right for you.

a4bf221b-e869-4a1f-b201-0f9bb73007b0-4736And Inclusive and Genuine*

These days, with traditional gender roles being questioned, not just in fashion, we have the opportunity to be androgynous or play with it at least. What we want to show you is that you don’t have to be a committed “tomboy” to dress masculine somedays and you should feel free to wear a bit of lippy even if you are a button up and vans kind of girl. Anything goes!

And all made and designed right here in Australia. Familial connection aside. I’m seeing CharlieBoy as a definite contender for my definition of feminaust fashion.

*Although on this note, if you go to the website now you’ll find it less than inclusive on the size front which was very disappointing to me in the first instance. I am reliably informed however that this was a tough decision based on how much it was going to cost to get a first run of shirts made and that from mid-October all shirts will be available from sizes S to XXL.

This entry was posted in Original comment/article by MsElouise. Bookmark the permalink.

About MsElouise

MsElouise is a community programs worker and feminist from Melbourne Australia. She likes to travel, write, rant and make people feel uncomfortable about their assumptions. She hopes to one day be remembered for changing the world just a little bit. Right now she does this by proving that teenage girls are a higher order of beings.

7 thoughts on “feminist fashion? feminaust fashion!

  1. I think your cuz’s clothes look really cool, but I think feminist fashion is wearing whatever you want. The only time I where pants is to work. I’m a total skirt and dress girl myself, but I love the way your cuz is pushing boundaries.

    • I guess the point I was trying to make was more that feminist fashion maybe isn’t wearing whatever you want to, in a similar way that feminism isn’t just about doing whatever you want to. Eg: that it’s not feminist (in my books) to do things as a white, Australian woman that impact negatively on the rights and opportunities of Aboriginal women, even if it’s something I want to do. So feminist fashion has more to it than just wearing what you want, it’s about where it comes from, who made it, how and why and what the greater impacts are. Other considerations are who is modelling the fashion and is it made for all women or do only I get to wear it because I’m a size 8 (which I’m not, but you get my point). The point of the article was definitely not to say that feminists have to wear pants or mens clothes. I love skirts too! and skirts can totally be feminist. I’m just not sure if skirts made in sweatshops or skirts that are only made in size 8 can be feminist.
      Glad you like the clothes though, spread the word!

      • Oh cool ok yeah I agree with that. Yeah the fashion industry as a whole isn’t exactly feminist and inclusive. No you are right sweat-shop clothes cannot be feminist fashion. Maybe feminist fashion is having any style you please, but thinking about from where and how the clothes you want to wear for your style were made.

  2. My only complaint is that yet again, fat feminists are excluded. Three sizes. Three SMALL sizes. A tick in every box in pretty much all other criteria, but as almost always, feminism leaves out the fat.

    • Yes, absolutely. As you can see from my final comment in the article, this was also a huge disappointment for me.
      However from the next order onwards (which arrives later in October) all shirts will be available in sizes XS to XXL and I’m not so subtly suggesting to my cousin that she always include models of all sizes in her shoots.
      If you’re personally (not just professionally) interested in the shirts I really encourage you to write to CharlieBoy and remind them that women come in all sizes, when you live in a fashion world it can be hard to remember that fact but some positive prompting from the general public can be very helpful.

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