Sara Medd is a woman on a mission. That mission is to help you find all of the androgynous and otherwise gender-neutral garb you’ve been looking for all your life.
Medd, who you may remember from gigs like dressing the Autostraddle Calendar Girls and helping you rediscover your ideal wardrobe via personal style sessions at A-Camp, launched a Kickstarter campaign on October 1 to raise money for the creation of Greyscale Goods — a company that would put a spin on your run-of-the-mill delivery services by bringing curated gender-neutral apparel to your doorstep.
The idea itself is easy peasy lemon squeezy: customers sign up, fill out a style profile specially crafted by Medd to guide her through the fashion market and find their perfect fits, and then they receive goods that are just what they’re looking for after working with some staff members and shoppers from Greyscale. Over time, as they leave feedback and comments about the items they’ve received, the Greyscale style team will find itself even better at matching them with their ideal looks. Customers pay for what they want, return what they don’t, and, over time, find themselves looking exactly how they want to look without suffering through another men’s section shopping spree or fruitless mall venture with their friends.
For something so revolutionary in its simplicity, the reality is that Greyscale Goods would fill a void in the current fashion world occupied by a ton of center-of-center queer folks. No longer will tomboys have to manuever through the men’s section, plagued by questions by staff members and glances from their neighbors. No longer will the dapper folks hand their clothes over to tailors in order to create the ensemble they were thinking of. And with a no-risk return policy and a personal shopper on their side, no Greyscale customer needs to worry about what happens if they’re not totally taken by the finds that come to their door. Like many things in life, it only gets better the longer they work with the team.
For Medd, going into fashion was inevitable. “I’ve been interested in fashion since I was a very tiny person,” she told me. “I was sewing clothes for my Barbie dolls at age 6 out of scrap fabric, which evolved into sewing clothes for my American Girl dolls, which eventually led to designing a collection for our school fashion show during my senior year of high school. I’ve worked in clothing retail since I was 17, and I have always been enamored with yummy fabrics and well-constructed designs.” Medd, who describes her personal style as “eclectic” and can’t live without jeans and a button-down shirt on hand (preferably in black, of course), went on to major in Fashion Merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and a string of office jobs afterward led her to professional styling. “I finally found what I love to do,” she said. “Take the beautiful and arduous work of designers and bring pieces together into a wearable and marketable look.”
Now, the Founder and CEO of Greyscale Goods has also come into her own as a member of the queer community, and it’s her impetus for gearing her company toward folks seeking out androgynous or otherwise gender-neutral looks. “Before Greyscale Goods was even a thought, the need for a retailer that offers more selection in gender-neutral clothing was very clear,” she told me. A lot of that comes from her experiences with queers like you at A-Camp, where she held private styling sessions. “The same questions kept coming up: I live in a small town in Missouri, and I don’t have access to city shopping, where can I find a properly fitting button-down shirt? I have a wedding to attend this summer — where can I find a vest or jacket?”
They were questions echoed on the queer Internet, posted on websites like DapperQ and QWear. “Clearly, there was a gaping hole in the clothing market,” Medd said. And though she often referred folks to botique online retailers, she noticed that the inconvenience of returning items purchased that way or even picking them out in the first place was also a hurdle for folks seeking out their perfect look. Whether things were too expensive, too complicated, or too far removed from small-town queers, it became clear to Medd that the void in fashion wasn’t just about the mere offering of androgynous apparel – it was also about how it was provided.
And thus, a spark.
“Earlier this year,” she told me, “I started noticing that many of my friends were subscribing to various subscription boxes and raving about the convenience of them. Some were subscribing to fashion boxes, but the targeted markets were distinctly separated between men’s clothing and extremely feminine women’s clothing. We are in an age where androgynous clothing is embraced in both male and female wardrobes, and gender-neutral fashions are becoming more popular. It only makes sense that there should be more platforms for bringing these gender-neutral brands together in one place, to create a one-stop shop.”
Medd eventually dreamt up Greyscale Goods when she was chatting with some friends about shopping. One was thrilled with her latest experience with Stitch Fix, and couldn’t get enough. Her girlfriend, however, wanted that experience but hadn’t been able to find one tailored to her androgynous look. “This underserved market is a glaring omission in the structure of traditional men’s and women’s clothing departments, and one that Greyscale Goods is motivated to address (and dress),” she said. “With Greyscale Goods, we aim to target the market in between these two segments: the gender-neutral style. We will be covering the “grey area” between traditional men’s and women’s fashions.”
At its inception, Greyscale will do that by working specifically with smaller, androgynous brands to bring them all under one roof for her clientele. Of particular interest are her burgeoning partnerships with Kipper Clothiers and Sharpe Suiting for any queer with dazzling places to go; if the Greyscale Kickstarter hits $120,000, Medd will design a Ready-to-Wear line of suiting separates with Kipper exclusively for her customers. Sharpe Suiting is already working on their own Ready-to-Wear line, which she hopes to bring into the fold as well. Over time, as her funding expands, Medd will also work to bring in more established and well-known brands carrying denim, sportswear, and menswear. In the long-term, she’s also gearing up to expand her offerings to plus-size folks.
But it doesn’t end there. “I am so excited about my plans for the future of Greyscale Goods.,” Medd told me, “because this is such unchartered territory right now. The way that I see this company building is based on an intricate algorithm incorporating the feedback from customers, which will allow us to have an actual relationship with each customer. This is a dream challenge for a software developer, but an extremely costly one.” Ultimately, Medd knows how to conquer that: “I hope to bring in some tech-savvy business partners who are up for the challenge!” (For the sake of us all, let her know if you’re one of those. Please.)
Though the Kickstarter goal is $25,000, Medd’s shooting for the stars with stretch goals beyond $100K, and they’re all well-deserved for someone hoping to help out an invisible market. (To make shipping actually happen, she needs $70,000.) And even if you don’t plan on becoming a Greyscale Goods shopper, supporting the Kickstarter can help you land some awesome items to fill that closet of yours you crept out of a few years ago. From sweatshirts to boyshorts to tee shirts to Kipper Clothier tops, the options are abound for folks hoping to make gender-neutral fashion a reality before the end of the month.
So just fucking give already! On behalf of all of us tomboy femme girls out there, I sincerely thank you in advance.
You can learn more about Greyscale Goods online and by following them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Sara welcomes all of your feedback and questions at email@example.com and would feel good about her day if you took their survey, too.
THIS IS EXCITING
TAKE MY MONEY
A good way to know what your style your customer base wants, is to create a survey!
Yes yes. All the andro clothing.
The event was great you guys!! Come support something you WILL love!! Yes to all the clothing!!
project status: backed!
Keep at it!
So you’re only adding plus-sizes if you get more than 4 times your original goal? Nice.
Seriously though what do they consider plus size? 16? 18? I’m confused as to why they can’t do plus sizes now. Is it too hard to shop in the fat people stores? Ha.
Probably it’s a manufacturing issues – not that bigger sizes are harder to make, but that a larger range of sizes is harder to manage.
(The things I’ve learned working in a manufacturing environment…)
I am very passionate about offering plus-size styles-I have had so much feedback asking for this! I also recognize that it is so necessary for the market right now. I have a lot of details to work through to get the company up and running, so I can’t make any promises about timing, but I can tell you that I am very motivated to have plus size offerings as soon as possible. Realistically, it will happen in the second season of shipping.
also, Emma, the delayed timing for offering plus sizes is more about establishing relationships with vendors. We won’t be shopping in stores to obtain the inventory, we will be ordering wholesale from vendors in the way that a boutique would. I have some existing relationships with vendors that I will be starting out with, but it will take a little longer to reach out to additional vendors who offer plus-size styles. The reason I mention it in the campaign is because I am only one person who can do so much, but if we reach a higher stretch goal, I will be able to bring on another person to help with the workload in establishing additional vendor relationships :) Don’t worry, I hear you, and I’ll make it happen!!! xx
Ok but what is your size limit now? I feel like “plus-size” as I understand it is so subjective- in some stores I buy “plus-size” and others I don’t. What is your size range?
This idea is fantastic! I would throw money at it if I could, but grad school doesn’t exactly keep me flush. :(
This is amazing!!
One thing I have noticed is that androgynous interpretation in fashion is frequently andro specific. The gyn hasn’t really caught up yet or doesn’t seem to receive as much press. There doesn’t seem to be as much androgynous fashion for people who might want more feminine flair in their gender neutral. Neutral seems to be associated with more masculine oriented comfort. I guess what I am rambling about is that we still live in a society where AFAB people wearing “masculine” clothes is seen as empowering, but AMAB people wearing “feminine” clothes is seen as humiliating. :(
right? i wish we would stop calling this style “androgynous” or “gender neutral.” it’s not, and calling it that reinforces the idea of male/masculine as default in our misogynist society. these clothes are NOT neutral. they are masculine clothes for people who may not have the bodies that most masculine clothes are designed for.
masculinity is not the default. “menswear for women” does NOT equal androgyny or gender neutrality.
i’m so cranky about this.
My style icon is Spencer on Pretty Little Liars. Her clothes are masculine and feminine at the same time! So I take note of what she’s wearing and the way she wears it and I try to buy stuff that matches it exactly at goodwill!
Oh my gosh, someone said it, thank you both so much. I was just sitting there looking at the examples and I was like “c’mon, this is exclusively menswear tailored for afab bods. That doesn’t even come close to encompassing the full breadth of what androgyny means,” and I wish they’d just be honest and say this was a menswear service! I’d LOVE to have a true androgynous clothing label that sizes things for a truly diverse range of bodies and incorporates garments from both sides of the clothing aisle. Collared shirts AND crop tops, slacks AND skirts, a little bit of everything in a nice cool palette!
On a related note, check out men’s skirt fashion. Some of it is super fly and successfully blurs gender boundaries.
Yeaaahhh men’s fashion is kind of the opposote of the goal.
On that note, there’s a reason that butchness is only celebrated on very specific people; why actual men, in skirts, are seen as super awesome gender rebels whereas “men in skirts” is used as a slur against us; why macho trans men are also seen as super awesome gender rebels; and why things like these always “happen” to be focused on anyone but trans women.
“Masculinity”/”femininity” re appearance really aren’t so much the point of distinction. Maleness is, along with pretty much every power dynamic, most of all race, also weight. “Masculinity” in women is met with violence in general, but the few times it’s accepted or even celebrated is when it’s presented as an emulation of maleness.
Trans women’s explicit rejection of maleness is anathema.
Also! I am also going to be incorporating pieces that are more in the “tomboy femme” aesthetic, which I consider to be feminine of center, albeit not “overtly feminine”. I won’t be offering skirts or dresses, but I will be offering items that a person with masculine-of-center would find too feminine for themselves. Like Stevie in the video was not dressed masculine at all! I hear you all, and I definitely have no intention of contributing to misogynistic ideas.
I agree that a company needs to exist to address the specific clothing needs of the AMAB feminine-of-center androgynous crowd. I hope that someone out there in the apparel universe feels called to do so, and I would love to partner with said person in the future. Through my career experiences, this more masculine-of-center area is where I felt that I was personally capable of addressing and making a difference in, but this is not to dilute the need for the rest of the androgynous community. I’m just trying to make a small difference where I felt I had the capability to!
i have no issue with the business itself/your choices of what you’re doing or providing, just the language used to describe it here and elsewhere
Tbh the basic aim of this basically sounds just like qwear’s ~”androgyny = menswear for ”””female-bodied””” people”~ except less blatantly worded.
And, similar to that, changing the language is just covering it up.
THANK YOU YES.
I did Stitch Fix for one box but it was too normative-femininity for my taste (though I did get some nice black jeans out of it which I am currently wearing). This doesn’t seem particularly “grey” to me – it seems solidly in the masculine camp.
I wish there was a fashion box for those whose style more closely resembles Joan Jett (or aspires to be thus).
Yeah, I signed up for Autostraddle to echo this. I read the headline and was like, “OH, GOODY!” But as an AMAB person, this is the kind of clothing I’m already expected to wear. I really hope that a “feminine-of-center” version of this pops up soon. Glad that sara responded to this comment, though!
I was super excited and ready to pledge, and I probably still will, but this made me sad: “In the long-term, she’s also gearing up to expand her offerings to plus-size folks.” Why will I have to wait for the “long-term” to be able to use this awesome service? Why does this ALWAYS happen with anything clothing-related that is not dedicated exclusively to plus sizes? I know that lots of clothing manufacturers don’t make clothes in a wide enough range of sizes, but…isn’t the point of this venture to offer something better than what others are providing? I hope this reads as constructive criticism, because that’s how it’s intended. I want to back the project, but it will suck if Greyscale Goods gets off the ground and I’m not able to use it until who knows when. :(
Kitty, please see my response above to Emma: I definitely intend to try to offer plus-sizes as soon as I possibly can! I know that it is often overlooked, but I am very passionate about making this happen. It is pure logistics right now, and not for lack of wanting to offer it :)
This is the greatest I am so excited. I feel like my style ranges a lot–some days I feel really femme and others I feel more masculine-of-center, with tomboy femme being my in-between usual look–but I still have a really difficult time finding clothes I actually want to wear. I actually want to wear these. This is exciting. Would be more exciting if I was financially independent (or maybe not a minor) and could give, but perhaps I can still find a way somehow.
omg can we stop defining androgyny as ‘masculine’ or ‘men’s’ clothing on afab bodies?!?!?!
Yeah, but how much is this going to cost?
I love Marimacho and all the rest, but $$$. I just can’t get all jazzed up about clothes I can’t afford, and neither can anyone I know.
Everyone has already said everything I was thinking about the “androgynous” look, and American Apparel shirts? They pay a decent wage, but is that enough to make up for the sexual harassment and advertisements that look like kiddy porn?
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer all over here.
This is my concern too. I’m afraid that the cost will end up being far too high for this to be a viable option for me. Marimacho and similar lines have also fallen far outside of my budget.
It’s interesting to me that you said this –> “Everyone has already said everything I was thinking about the “androgynous” look, and American Apparel shirts? They pay a decent wage, but is that enough to make up for the sexual harassment and advertisements that look like kiddy porn?” while also saying that you fear these clothes will be too expensive.
producing inexpensive clothing in an ethical environment where all workers are paid and treated well and all advertising is inoffensive and nobody in the company has done something terrible/gross/illegal is impossible. you can’t have both — affordable clothing and clothing ethically produced that sustainably supports queer communities. it’s just not possible, yannow?
OH.MY.GOD. SO EXCITED.
I would really like to know the price range too. I backed Veer and was really disappointed to find that most of the clothing, in the end, was just way out of my budget.
As far as pricing, I am really trying to make this affordable for as many customers as possible. I can’t promise prices as low as H&M, because they buy products in huge quantities which drives the price down. Boutique manufacturers (which are where most of the queer clothing companies fall) have to charge higher prices to make up for the small quantity production and returns and shipping. We hope to work with those same companies to bring the prices down by buying more of each style.
I can’t give you exact pricing yet, but I am aiming to keep most shirts and pants under $100, and offer even lower prices wherever possible, as well as higher premium prices for customers looking for more unique and higher quality products. I hope this answers your question!
Um, no offense, but under 100 dollars for most shirts is still *really fucking expensive.*
I know that not everything is Old Navy, but “under $100” for a shirt or a pair of pants is still a lot of money. Shoes excluded, my entire (work!) outfit today cost under $100.
General request for a “dressing like a cute/dapper queer on a very, very low budget” article?
Agreed. The vast majority of my clothes cost under $50 a pop, often even less. The $50-$60 range mostly covers my beloved flannel-lined jeans (which does say something about my level of fashion… but they’re warm and well-made and they FIT ME), and once you get above that we’re mostly talking winter coats.
The basic idea is still a good one; just something to keep in mind.
i think sara is very well aware that “under 100 dollars” is still expensive — but that doesn’t mean it’s possible in any way for her to sell clothes for what you’d pay to h&m and old navy. it’s just actually not possible. those stores offer discounted goods because they make huge wholesale buys (even our merch would be cheaper if we could afford to print 10,000 shirts at once instead of 300) and because all their production is done out of the country. there is also a real human cost to what keeps clothes prices so low for national retailers. regardless, most of us (including me) shop at h&m and forever 21 etc despite the unethical environments in which their clothing is produced (and sold, often) ’cause we just can’t afford anything more. but some people can afford more, and it’s great that they’ll have the option to support sara’s independent queer-women owned-and-operated business.
Some of this clothing is more towards the masculine side, but I would definitely say that most of it is more “center of center.” I think that it’s easier to perceive it as masculine simply because masculinity is still the social default, which means that femininity has to be marked as “other”. While the definition of masculinity expands to include tight pants, fitted cuts, floral patterns, etc, the definition of femininity in apparel is confined to things that specifically mark it as such. It’s the same concept as, say, putting a bow and eyelashes on the girl cartoon squirrel while assuming that the “normal” one is male. Masculine apparel expands its boundaries, and AFAB people are allowed access to it, through androgyny and through reappropriating menswear fashion. Sure, this collection as a whole does lean a bit more towards the masculine side. But it’s also important to keep in mind that we tend to see “neutral” as masculine more often than we would see it as feminine. So hey, it might not be quite as “menswear for AFAB” as it seems at first glance.
thanks Rachel! This is definitely what we were going for in the video, and you said it perfectly :)
OH would like but…
1. In the UK
2. OH has some rather large ‘assets’ to clothe.
Any ideas? Anything that fits also swamps. The specialist stuff that fits is far too fussy for her.
This is really cool!
I have a big concern with this service, how much will the clothes in these boxes cost on average. As excited to see androgynous and masculine of center clothing lines premiere lately, they are not at all something I can afford. Way out of my price range!
However, if this can come in at a moderate price point, this sounds like an amazing services and something I’d absolutely love. Being a short woman I have a really difficult time finding androgynous/masculine clothing that will fit my small body. Men’s clothes are generally too large, and boy’s clothes are cut to fit even rather small hips. Women’s clothes tend to be too feminine.
This is a another project addressing the most catered-to part of the androgynous community, skinny masculine of center FAAB people, and its marketing suggests that this is the definition of androgyny or gender neutrality.
There needs to be some acknowledgement of the harm this message causes and commitment to at least change the marketing so that it stops reinforcing damaging stereotypes about what androgyny looks like.
It sucks that in this current climate of capitalism that small businesses can’t afford to stock the plus sizes a lot of us queers need and at a price point we can actually budget for.
If anyone decides to do a plus sized clothing line using a crowdfunding site, I WILL BACK THE FUCK OUT OF YOU.
While I am also on the eternal quest to find button up shirts that fit me well, I don’t think “androgynous” ones will ever work for me. I like my hourglass shape and want to feature it sometimes, and that just doesn’t seem to fit into non-femme styles.
Just curious, when is this going to be available? This post is 6 months old.