CH25: Vanessa Newman
Redesigning maternity clothes for the post-gender generation
Vanessa Newman's start-up Butch Baby & Co. is the first-ever “alternity-wear” company for the those expecting bundles of joy. Because Newman understands that carrying a child isn't as stereotypically feminine as it used to be, and while hormones may be strong, putting one's identity on hold for nine months is illogical—and can cause emotional and psychological pain. Thus, Butch Baby & Co. caters to people who are trans, gay, gender-fluid or take their place anywhere on the non-heteronormative rainbow with apparel that isn't traditional, frilly and feminine.
Comparing her work to the adoption of traditionally male clothing that kicked off women's lib in suffragette days, the decoupling of pregnancy from gender presentation is a political act for Newman. She thinks through every aspect of her designs deeply; materials and manufacturing techniques are finely tuned to ensure that no one is shut out who needs the final product. Newman's vision is an ideal example of the principle that design begins with empathy.
Read more about Newman and her project in her full CH25 profile.