Fashion Won't Serve LGBT Buyers? 'Fine, We'll Make Our Own Clothes.'


While the fashion world’s selling swill like “treggings” or the novel concept of denim-on-denim, perhaps designers should focus on the burgeoning market of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender buyers searching for the right fit. It’s absolutely not an easy quest.

As transgender woman in transition, Kylie Jack shared with AP that last year all she wanted was a properly fitting bra but a store called Petticoat Fair in Austin, Texas wasn’t ready for her. When she asked for access to the fitting rooms, Jack was denied entry after being asked if she was an “anatomical female.” How very Pretty Woman.

Now entrepreneurs like Susan Herr, founder of dapperQ, a site on masculine dressing for the LGBTQ community or Mary Going, a masculine-presenting lesbian who started Saint Harridan for off-the-rack suits for all sizes and shapes, are shrewdly working to meet a marketplace demand. Often, these business ideas are born from a personal struggle.

In Going’s case, all she wanted was a good suit but at 5 foot 3 inches and 120 pounds, there weren’t a lot of options at the mall. So she had a suit tailor-made from her measurements and the finished product cost was $1,800. That is a month’s rent for a questionable studio apartment in Brooklyn.

“I’ve had cars that cost less than that,” said Going. “I loved that suit. I felt great in that suit in a way that I had never felt great in my clothes before. I felt taller. I felt like I got more respect and I don’t know if that’s because I presented more respectfully or because people really did see me differently.”

Now, Going is presenting pop-up stores for Saint Harridan across the U.S., including Oakland, Minneapolis and next month, Boston. She says customers sometimes get emotional because it’s so rare to find an enjoyable shopping environment.

“We’ve had grown people stand in our store and cry because they have never experienced customer service like this,” Going said. “We’re telling them that they are valued and respected just the way they are.”

Hey fashion world, there is literally money on the table. Don’t be the last house to underestimate an underserved market.

Image via Pretty Woman.

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