TomboyX Breaks the Bounds of Women’s Fashion Stereotypes
In 2013, married cofounders Fran Dunaway (left) and Naomi Gonzalez founded TomboyX, an apparel company that creates and curates clothing and accessories with tomboy style. I came across them in my search for more sporty underwear for my butch wife, and voila, a love match was born. Their products go beyond undies, however. You’ll find ethically sourced cool gear such as hats, bracelets, boxers, socks, wallets, scarves and really amazing belt buckles, many of which make for excellent attendant gifts for the tomboys, butch lesbians, sporty queers and masculine-leaning folks in your wedding! After reading my interview with Fran Dunaway, make sure to stick around for a roundup of some of my favorites from TomboyX.
For readers unfamiliar, what is TomboyX?
TomboyX is a movement to challenge the stereotypes within women’s fashion that have been perpetuated for far too long. We are focused on empowering women by using real women models—we call them role models—celebrating our differences and being inclusive. We offer a large assortment of clothing that helps you feel comfortable in your own skin.
How are your products sourced? How do you select vendors to work with?
We try to make sure that we are ethically sourcing our materials and our director of product development visits the factories we work with on a regular basis. We manufacture in the U.S., Canada and China. We have very close relationships with the factory owners in every location and they are well aware of our quality standards and in fact that’s why they love working with us. No one likes to do shoddy work and the whole fast fashion trend means lower-quality fabric and construction. We are committed to high-quality fabric, attention to detail and great fit.
Some of your products are TomboyX originals–are you the designer on those?
It depends on the item. We have an in house designer and Naomi and I are very involved in every detail. When we designed our boxer briefs we relied on Carma, a good friend who is a police officer and somewhat of an expert on boxer briefs. We included her every step of the way and are pretty sure that’s a big part of why we got them right. And we named them after her – the Good Carma boxer briefs. Since she’s an officer of the law, we are really glad we got it right!
Who is your customer?
Our products are for any person who prefers comfort, appreciates quality and supports a company that is BY TOMBOYS, FOR TOMBOYS™. While we started with the Good Carma and Feeling Frisky boxer briefs (with leg lengths of 6” and 4.5”), we added boy shorts (with a 2.5” leg length) and Tomboy briefs (traditional no-leg brief style) so that everyone can enjoy quality, comfortable underwear. We still find that our boxer briefs are the best solution for people who wear uniforms; they prevent chafing when worn under skirts and are the go to choice for women who have been shopping in the menswear department.
What prompted you to create TomboyX and when was it officially launched?
I was personally frustrated with the options for women and Naomi got tired of hearing me complain. One day she asked ‘how hard can it be to start a clothing line?’ And off we went. We ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in March 2013, started selling retail online in April 2013.
What were you doing before you created TomboyX? Were you working in the field of retail?
Honestly, neither of us knew a knit from a woven. I was a partner in a media strategies firm and produced television ads for democratic campaigns. Naomi is a sports massage therapist by trade, and one of her biggest claims to fame was that she was on staff with the Women’s Olympic Soccer team when they won gold in 2004. She ran her own business and I could manage big budgets, but we had no clue about retail. We’ve learned so much just by diving in and figuring things out. It’s been like getting a trial by fire MBA.
What makes TomboyX special?
The fact that so many people from around the world feel seen and heard. The fashion industry has basically ignored an entire segment of people and we think it’s time to change that. Women are so badass and so amazing. We want them to feel celebrated and respected for who they are. Our goal isn’t to show anyone how to be cool. Our goal is to commend you on how cool you really are. We celebrate body-diversity, so we have options for people of all sizes – from XS to 4X.
Do you ship all over the world?
We do. In fact, we’ve shipped to 34 different countries! We have an album on Facebook with all of the various flags. It’s really cool.
What is some of the feedback you’ve received on TomboyX?
We sometimes hear from people that our prices are too high but once they get their product they tell us it’s worth every penny. Our belief is that if you make quality products that are built to last then we’re doing you and the environment a favor. We ethically source the materials and we seek out factory partners that offer a fair living wage, and good working conditions. We want to empower not just the women who wear our clothes, but also the women who make them. And finally, it just feels good to put on something that is well made with fine quality materials with values you can stand behind.
Kirsten Ott Palladino
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