The Menswear-Inspired Clothing Company Changing the Fashion Industry
For women who love the styles of men’s fashion, there are few options for clothing—try the women’s section and deal with frilly accruements or exaggerated curves, or skip straight to the men’s section, where clothes are designed for, uh, men. Without boobs. Or, you know, hips.
Frustrated with an industry that didn’t cater to their tastes or the styles of other LGBTQ women, married duo Kelly and Laura decided to take matters into their own hands. With no prior experience in fashion, they launched Kirrin Finch, a women’s clothing company inspired by menswear but designed to perfectly complement women’s bodies. Their clothes are exceptionally crafted and designed with every little detail in mind to create a superior item of clothing. Thanks to them, women are finally able to buys clothes that fit both their bodies and their style.
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What first sparked the idea for Kirrin Finch, and what made you take the leap and actually go for it?
Kirrin Finch was founded out of a frustration with the fashion industry/fashion industry norms. For folks like us, assigned female at birth but interested in menswear, there aren’t many viable clothing options. Before we started Kirrin Finch, our choices were to shop in the men’s section for ill-fitting clothing that matched our personal styles, attempt to shop in the women’s section where everything is overly-frilly, or get custom made clothing which is both a hassle and extremely expensive. We wanted to create an option for folks like us, where people can find high quality, well fitting, menswear-inspired looks.
What was the hardest part about starting this business and building a fashion brand?
The hardest part is taking the leap in the first place. Neither of the founders us had worked in fashion before (Laura worked in pharmaceutical marketing and Kelly was a teacher). There was a very steep learning curve to move from idea to execution.
Can you share what makes your designs special? What changes did you make to traditional menswear to make these pieces perfect for women?
There were a lot of changes that we made to traditional menswear to make it work for women/AFAB non-binary folks. Our audience generally has narrower shoulders, with larger hips and bust than AMAB people. Therefore, we took the shoulders in a bit, shortened the torso and arms, added some room for hips and bust, and added extra buttons down the front placket so that there was no “boob gape,” which is when a shirt pulls across the chest and leaves wearers accidentally exposed. Additionally, our designs are special because we choose high quality fabrics, and offer organic options. We also add fun accents and details to our clothing like contrast pockets and colorful cuff buttons on our shirts, and unique binding, back pocket triangles and waistband fabric on our chinos.
You’re doing something simple, yet groundbreaking, by creating menswear inspired fashion for women. What has been the response to Kirrin Finch, particularly in the LGBTQ community?
The response to Kirrin Finch has been fantastic. One of our favorite things that we hear from customers a lot is that they’ve never had the experience of putting on a button-down and having it fit as well as our shirts do. It can really change how a person feels on the inside to finally have something fit both their body and their identity, and we think that is extremely powerful.
Your shirts are named after iconic tomboy characters. Where did this idea come from?
We both identified as tomboys as kids, and seeing that represented in a character is so affirming. Reading about Scout Finch and Georgina Kirrin was life changing.
Can you talk about your sustainable fashion practices? Why was it important for you to make your clothing sustainable and environmentally responsible?
It’s important for us to be sustainable and environmentally responsible because we care about the earth. If more companies cared, even a little more, it could have a huge impact. Our attitude is similar to the Ghandi quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Neither of you came from fashion backgrounds. How do you think your previous careers and experience have helped you succeed with Kirrin Finch?
A diversity of experience is always useful if you look at it the right way. Although our professional backgrounds weren’t necessarily related to fashion, our identities are something we’ve been working on and understanding for our entire lives. More than anything, being able to identify with our customers has been one of the most important things we both brought to this company. We know what it’s like to not be able to find clothing that fits you, or that you like. We know how demoralizing it can be to shop in the men’s section. We made something for ourselves, and are lucky that there are enough people in the world looking for the same thing to make it work.
What is it like running a business with your wife? What are some of the challenges and rewards?
There is something really magical and difficult about working with your spouse. You know each other so well as a partner, but I think everyone is a bit different at work. It took us a bit of time to navigate our new “work” relationship. Work tends to brings out different sides of people and you just have to relearn each other and figure out how to make the new side of your relationship successful.
One of the biggest challenges we face is being able to leave work at work. You come home and you want to chat about your day at work, but it isn’t the same because that person has been there the entire day and they are emotionally invested as well. One of the positives of working together, and being married, is that it gives you flexibility to be able to get things done outside of the office and in all sorts of fun places like the beach. You also get to see a very different side of your partner and how they negotiate different types of challenges. Especially when we first started working together, I was really impressed by Laura’s ability to solve problems and to teach herself new skills.