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Interview: Wildfang

Menswear-stealing women welcome the world's first home for the tomboy

by Graham Hiemstra in Style on 04 February 2013

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With the seemingly simple choice of what to wear each day we decide how the world will perceive us. Your personal style can often be the most important outlet in portraying a sense of individuality. While there's certainly no shortage of budding brands speaking to all sorts of aesthetics, it seems the tomboy is often be left to fend for herself in the men's department. Enter Wildfang, a new menswear brand for women. Taking its name from the German word for tomboy, Wildfang aims to be a near-comprehensive resource for the women of the world who dare to defy sartorial gender rules. After a silent launch over the weekend, Wildfang introduces themselves and their manifesto to the world with the first step toward creating an online hub for like-minded women.

To learn more about the brand's aspirations, influences and intentions we caught up with co-founders Emma Mcllroy and Julia Parsley after another long night preparing for the imminent launch.

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How will Wildfang become "the world's first home for tomboys?"

Emma McIllroy: We feel right now there is no one doing what we're doing. There's a number of small designers starting to play in this space but they're not offering any more than just product. So our hope is to create a community—create a place that the tomboy loves to come, loves to spend time. We're going to offer up just as much content in editorial as we will fashion and style. The same way that Urban Outfitters has become the home for the hipster, we definitely hope that in the next few years our consumer believes that Wildfang is the home for the tomboy.

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I've always thought girls in boys clothing, when done right, was a great look, and I don't think I'm alone here. Why do you think it's taken so long for a brand to fully get behind the concept?

EM: Wow, that's a great question… I don't know, maybe other people have done it for commercial reasons before but for us it's a labor of love. Wildfang isn't a big brand coming into the space to just make money. This is a group of girls, a group of badass women who truly want this to exist, who truly need this product. So maybe it's just perfect time for someone to go out there and just be brave enough to do it themselves.

Julia Parsley: My guess is if there are brands that have played in this space, it's been a seasonal play—they've treated it as a fad. They haven't really seen it as a true attitude, a mindset, and a way of life. And that's how we're approaching it. Thats why it's as much about creating a hub and a community as it is about curating product.

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Stylistically, who were some influences you've had growing up? Have these individuals had an impact on your idea of what a tomboy is?

JP: Something that Emma and I take a lot of inspiration from is the belief that this is something that has been around for a long time. It's something that generations of women have been a part of. In fact both of us have really great stories from our own grandmothers about being tomboys back in the day.

EM: As you move through history, whether it's Patti Smith or Audrey Hepburn, I think it's very clear to see where the tomboy style has come from. And as Julia said it's just as much about a mind set and an attitude as it is about a style. Those women were confident. They were bold, they were fun. And they really stood for something, something you could look up to. That's certainly what we think of when we think of a tomboy.

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The brand imagery seems very "Portland"—it feels raw and unedited. Was this a conscious decision or just an aesthetic byproduct of the brand's hometown?

JP: This is very much an intentional decision. Emma and I met in Portland when we both worked for Nike and we are really inspired by this city and the people here. It factors really highly in the story of how Wildfang came to be. So we're really proud to have Portland in our DNA and we're really proud to show it off.

EM If it wasn't for Portland there would be no Wildfang. So much of Portland is intertwined and wrapped up in our brand.

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It feels like there's a lot of pent up passion behind the launch, how will the hub style web presence help maintain this once the brand is let loose?

EM We've put a big emphasis on providing that content because in order to be true to the [tomboy lifestyle] and to really cater to these needs we have to do way more than just sell clothes, this is way more than that. This is really servicing an emotional need for that girl. She hasn't really been able to feel like herself for a long time, and we hope that Wildfang can help that. We've had a lot of positive response so far and we don't see the energy slowing down at all.

Sign up to receive more information on Wildfang. Those who do will receive exclusive access to the e-commerce site—which will include a selection of product from some 30 additional like-minded brands—once it goes live 1 March 2013.

Images courtesy of Wildfang

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