Feminism And Fashion Collide In These Stunning Images: BUST Interview

by Jacy Topps

In country where anti-sex legislation is being passed in the South, presidential hopefuls are wanting to punish women who have abortions and workplace sexual assault is being ignored, defining feminism has never seemed so crucial. In a creative photo series, Wildfang — a tomboy-styled clothing brand — reached out to a group of people of different ages, races, genders, occupations, political affiliations (even Republicans) and religious convictions, all of whom self-identify as feminists, to ask them what feminism is and what being a feminist means to them.

the f word fatmahFATMAH: AFRO-ARAB, MUSLIM AMERICAN, SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST, STUDENT “I think some may be surprised to hear that I identify as feminist depending on how they define it and whether or not they see my hijab as a symbol for feminism or oppression. Feminism to me is being able to remove all the checked boxes that ‘define’ a person based on cultural expectations and societal norms, and being able to define yourself based on your own values and ideologies. We live in a time of injustice, inequitable access, and hatred towards different identities. As a country that constantly talks about equal rights and justice, we’ve failed, and we must change that.”

Wildfang was founded by self-described tomboys Emma McIlory and and Julia Parsley. The two wanted to create a clothing brand and a space for tomboys and people who refuse to conform to traditional binary ideals. The Portland-based store is just in its third year and has already a badass celebrity following.



Recently, Wildfang launched an exclusive collection for the rebels, feminists and badass rule breakers called “The Wild Collection.” I had the amazing opportunity to chat with co-founder Emma McIlory about feminism, gender identity and fashion icons.

the f word aliciaALICIA: MISS ARIZONA, MODEL, SINGER, & SUN DEVIL “I probably get judged for being a beauty queen, but being a feminist isn’t about what job you do or how you look, it’s about treating each other with respect and allowing each person to make their own choices without being held back or restricted.”

What inspired “The Wild” collection?

The WILD collection is inspired by our DNA and our rebellious spirit. We were inspired by girls who make their own rules and you see that play out in the design direction. We want these to become her new favorites.


Is there a relationship between fashion and feminism? How would you define that relationship?

I think that style is a form of self expression and feminism is grounded in being free to express exactly how you want to and have the opportunities that allow you to be your best.

the f word erikERIK: DAD & HUSBAND, BIRD & BIG GAME HUNTER, GARDENER, HOME BREWER “I am a Republican man so some (false) stereotypes might suggest that I cannot also be a feminist, but I thoroughly support the idea of equal opportunity for all women. The term feminist has picked up ‘radical’ connotations in the past, but to me equality isn’t radical.”

There’s something to be said about the clothes and confidence. How important do you think it is for a person to express their gender identity through fashion?

Gender identity is much more fluid than ever before and so how we express that through fashion is also more fluid than ever before. I think it’s critical that people can express themselves through their style-identity is made up of many elements but you should have the ability to express those elements and not feel held back.

wildfang4Jeremy: Calling myself a feminist helps me to redefine what it means to be a man, how to be an ally to women, people of color, LGBTQ and other marginalized groups of people. Shannon: I am a feminist because I recognize that oppression of women has lead to many of the downfalls of contemporary American culture. When hearing from women leading movements, we hear change must happen. When hearing from women of color, we hear even more radical change must occur. When listening to trans and queer women of color, we hear a call to action and call to social justice that involves every institution our country is built upon. There is no other way to heal from the past that does not include listening to those most oppressed.

Who are your favorite icons that are empowering the feminist movement through fashion and style?

Grandpastyle and Nadia Sarwar are two amazing women who are creating new and bold style choices and inspiration for the modern woman. From high end fashion, Cara Delevingne and Donna Karan have both done a lot to empower women and fuel women’s self expression — Cara through modeling and Donna through design.

the f word leahLEAH: 12 YEARS OLD, BIOLOGIST/ACTIVIST IN THE MAKING, TYPE 1 DIABETIC, HIP HOP NERD OF MINECRAFT “Some people think young girls can’t have opinions or be activists. I am a feminist because I believe gender does not matter, we should all be equals. We are all humans; living, using, and relying on this earth.”

Whitney Cummings, Kate Moennig, Evan Rachel Wood, Hannah Blilie, Tegan and Sara — there is no shortage of collaborations with badass women. What other “tomboys” can we look forward to seeing wearing Wildfang?

We have some fun projects coming up this summer where you’ll see us work with a host of badass women from a range of industries — law to cooking, TV to marijuana — all these women are bosses who have smashed the glass ceiling in their industry. We think you’ll love it.


You’re based in Portland and who doesn’t love Portland! But any plans to expand to other cities?

YES! We’re working on plans to roll out more stores on both East & West Coasts. Stay tuned!

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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