Traditional department stores generally appeal to the heterosexual and ‘gender conventional’, failing to recognise those who are gender-queer or gender non-conforming. Put simply, Saint Harridan is all about men’s suits tailored for ‘butch-lesbians’, the androgynous and transgender-men.
Mary Going, the name behind the brand, understood that women who favoured a more masculine look, were faced with challenge of finding clothes, which they were comfortable in. While shopping for a suit to wear to her same-sex marriage, the smallest suit she could find was a 38’, in which she was a 36’. This sparked a business proposition, and soon became a stylish, serene shopping space for made-to-fit masculine style.
After identifying a seemingly obvious need within the fashion market, Saint Harridan ventured into the uncharted territory of ‘Wo-menswear’, producing traditional two-piece suits for the female-born body with all of its curvaceous characteristics. The brand joins a fresh collection of brands who cater to women who dress and act in ways traditionally associated with men. Saint Harridan soon developed into a clothing company that would provide a safe, supportive environment for women to cultivate their own handsome looks.
Saint Harridan identifies itself as being removed from the mainstream, focussed on inspiring a community of people who are not validated in conventional society. Going explains that, “For masculine women, [Saint Harridan is] a place where you’re not a freak anymore. You’re expected — not just tolerated and certainly not rejected.”
In 2012, Mary Going created a Kickstarter campaign, surpassing its $87,000 goal in just 8 days. Going, launched an online store in 2013, before hosting a 15-city pop-up tour to introduce their line. Since then, the Oakland-based company has transformed into an online clothing store, selling a range of items from custom suits and shirts, to colourful bow-ties and accessories.
Going took a traditional men’s suit, put it on a woman and corrected all the things that didn’t work. She made 67 adjustments. A Saint Harridan suit starts at about $1,100, which reflects the suits design quality and attention to detail, being made in an American factory, by union workers. The finished product is sophisticated and powerful, according to all reports.
Saint Harridan is more than a place to get clothes, providing an opportunity for individuals to wear clothes designed for your body that also reflect how you see yourself. Saint Harridan has revolutionized the shopping experience for women who don’t dress ‘gender-conventionally’. Going says that, “As a social justice activist, I’m more effective because I’m more confident. I want to give people the tools to feel that change in their confidence.”