27 November 2012

Sister Harridan

A friend recently pointed me at the kickstarter campaign for Saint Harridan, a project to start up a line of suits for dapper women.

Saint Harridan is of the community, for the community. We listen. We developed our designs using a focus group; we work with real-life models. Going forward we want to hear from you. Should our next item be a vest? A suit with a different cut? Casual dress pants? Sweaters? But, FIRST, we must hear from you that this is a good idea. If we don't meet our Kickstarter goal, we won’t have enough evidence that this business can work and we cannot produce the suits. We believe Saint Harridan’s time has come. If you agree, don’t wait. Pre-order your suit today!

I'm not in their demographic. (Okay, I'm a Dapper Q reader, but I'm a fella and I already have suits I'm happy with.) But admiring the project and being a sucker for a kickstarter, I threw them a couple of shekels and linked the project on Facebook, knowing I had friends who would be interested.

On Facebook Whiskeypants, a friend of a friend, objected.

I have a bone to pick with them. They aren't getting a cent from me.

  1. They claim that they want to make suits for all body types, but they really only wanted women who looked like men. It didn't even occur to them when looking for community models to measure breast size.
  2. They never admitted that they only had two suit patterns and lacked the capacity to make more. Those suit patterns only work for women who are shaped like men.
  3. They rejected more femme looking women because of some really fucked up views about what role femme women play socially, and because they didn't want press to focus on “pretty”.

So basically all they are doing is making suits that their models could already have found everywhere, while totally neglecting the people who really do need suits made for their body types.

I saw all of this firsthand. Also, my friends were involved in the model search.

Had they owned it from the beginning and just said, “we have limitations, this is what we can work with right now as the start for what we hope will be X thing”, I would have had much more respect for them. Instead, may I suggest you support Tomboy Tailors.

You can also, if you like, quote Mary Going from St. Harridan, who — in an email — said stuff like “Frankly, women have been portrayed as feminine. They have not been portrayed like we're portraying them. We didn't want that to get watered down.” —which not only completely destroys the spectrum between so-called “butch” and so-called “femme” women, it completely ignores the multitude of reasons that “femme” women might want to wear a suit. I know some very femme women who look amazing in drag, for example.

I don't want to stick my nose into a question I don't have a real stake in, but my nose is already interposed by virtue of having spread the link. Vexing.

So I offer this with the caveats I don't know either Whiskeypants or the Harridan folks, though I can report that Whiskeypants is the trusted friend of a stylish friend. On the other hand, a friend I know to have good judgement is acquainted with the Saint Harridan crew and reads the project more positively.


Amy Hale said...

Hmmm. I dig dapper ladies, and I can even femme up a suit pretty well. My question surrounding all this stuff is always the degree of internalized misogyny at play. It doesn't have to be. I actually find it to be less of a problem in butch space than with the genderqueer set.

Jonathan Korman said...

less of a problem in butch space than with the genderqueer set

Now isn't that interesting.