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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Jacy Topps is a New York-based writer and PR executive. She writes primarily about fashion, NYC, music, LGBT culture and wine. Her love for Lifetime movies is bordering on an obsession. When she’s not attending fashion events in NYC, you can find her sipping wine and binge watching Gossip Girl on Netflix. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jacytopps.