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Degendering Our Brand - Clothes Are Genderless, What About MIRCHI KOMACHI?

In April 2022, we MIRCHI KOMACHI started degendering our brand and website.
Clothes don’t have genders.
We MIRCHI KOMACHI aim for a world where anyone with any body can openly wear any item with any silhouette, colours, prints etc. that one likes, while the unsolicited “disapproval” by people around us is few & non-violent enough to ignore.

In my view, what to wear & how to wear should be totally up to individuals, and they’re the manifestation of who one is. I want to abolish the social system which robs the liberties especially from women and forces rules only to maintain the system itself.
I started MIRCHI KOMACHI with such thoughts. And since then, I’ve been learning from various people and my view has been changing (I’d like to call it progress).

The protest in India against the statement by one of the Chief Ministers about women wearing ripped jeansThe protest in India against the statement by one of the Chief Ministers about women wearing ripped jeans

 

The society which forces women to dress in certain ways also restricts men, i.e. men wearing “women’s clothes” is considered as a big taboo because it shakes the power men hold in society, it shakes the key value which the majority of us have been believing entire life.
The people who’re afraid of those who don’t follow the dressing norms assault them. There are countries and eras where “cross-dressing” was illegal, and even when it’s not illegal, walking in the street without being harassed or getting attacked can be extremely difficult.

The rules are not only about clothes. There are rules about everything in our life. What to do, what not to do, every decision is controlled and policed.

In such society, wearing clothes one wants to wear (while attracting "what people would say") can be a statement as “I live my life as I want”. It can be also an invitation to a new view as “who’s benefiting by setting up common sense?”, or even an expression of the respect for the beautiful differences among people.
Choosing what to wear can be self-care, a political commitment, an expression of love.

We MIRCHI KOMACHI view clothes/fashion like this.
According to the progress of MIRCHI KOMACHI (of me lol), we modify MIRCHI KOMACHI World as best we can.

#LaRopaNoTieneGenero Male teachers wearing skirts in Spain. Some protests occurred against descrimination to the boys who wore a skirt or a “girly” Tshirt to school.#LaRopaNoTieneGenero Male teachers and students wearing skirts in Spain. Some protests occurred against discrimination to the boys who wore a skirt or a “girly” T-shirt to school.




Process Of MIRCHI KOMACHI’s Degendering
We’re a brand of ready-made clothes basically. So we make “standard patterns” on paper based on MIRCHI KOMACHI size charts, and develop them into patterns of different sizes.
Whether our patterns fit someone’s body or not depends on each person’s frame/figure (even among the people of the same sex), I must say.

When you wear an item with a silhouette which follows the body line to a certain extent, like a blazer, if the pattern doesn’t fit your frame/figure, you’d feel uncomfortable or have weird space in the clothes or lack fabric in the weird place.

male and female dress forms and mannequins


The reason we started making “Men’s” jackets in 2019 was that we wanted to offer comfy and cute blazers to the people who have a “male” body and free spirit.
When I saw some people throwing on a MIRCHI KOMACHI existing (i.e. “ladies”) blazer jacket on their “male” body, the hem of the back side rose due to the muscle around the shoulder blade, or the upper arms looking tight in the sleeves. Even if they decide to ignore the bust darts (the space made for boobs), I felt sorry for the “men” who want to wear our jackets.

(Note :
I understand that body genders are not limited to only 2, male body and female body, needless to say the genders as identity are not.
But in this blog post, I am talking about the patterns of the clothes which follow the body line, and so on.
Therefore, I indicate:
-  the body with aspects like having broad shoulder, muscle on the back, not much gap between the waist size and hip size… as “male body”, and 
-  the body with aspects like having boobs, bigger gap between the waist size and hip size… as “female body”,
totally for descriptive purposes.)

Ladies’ Base Pattern and Men’s Base Pattern
Ladies’ Base Pattern (black) and Men’s Base Pattern (red)

So that’s why MIRCHI KOMACHI “Men’s” Blazers were born.
Of course they fit “male bodies” pretty well. The fabric in every part followed the body line and men could wear them beautifully and comfortably.
In the “Men’s” section of our website, we wrote:

Structured for male bodies.
But no need to be a “man” to wear them.
Hence, the quotation marks.
Cheers, all you free souls with a male body!”

But the idea of having a separate “Men’s” section didn't sit well within me even after months, years.
I felt as if we were imposing a fence like “if you have a male body, choose from “Men’s” section, obviously!”. 

When I learned how to make the patterns of basic blazers at the fashion college, they taught like “ladies’ blazers are curvy to show the women’s body curves beautifully, and men’s blazers are boxy with big shoulders to make the body look sturdy”.
But it’s not always the case that “women” (either in gender identity or the body gender) want to wear curvy blazers and “men” want to wear boxy blazers, is it?  MIRCHI KOMACHI should not define such things by dividing the blazers “for women” “for men” with the silhouettes… I started thinking this way.

Originally, as we can see from the history of clothing, “the ideal fashion for men’s body” or “for women’s body” are just the rules created to manipulate people by establishing the difference between men and women as something universal.

Billy Porter in a curvy jacket and a woman in a boxy jacketBilly Porter in a curvy silhouette jacket-dress (?) and a woman in a boxy jacket


And also, I found myself unconsciously avoiding the colours like pink (yes, of course colours also have genders, right?! Ugh!!) or cute prints which would be harder to sell in “men’s”.

I was helping to cement the social norm that so-and-so colours & designs belong only to women and should not be encouraged (marketed!) for men! Ewwwww.

Some of you who love used clothes would understand this:
regardless of the body gender or size, once you fall in love with an item at a used clothes shop, you just have to grab it. You would then use your whole brain cells to create your own styling or silhouette with the gem.

In other words, how to wear an item is NOT automatically fixed by one’s body gender or size. Clothes are genderless.
Maybe what clothing brands can do is to provide accurate information so that each customer can select without miss-expectation, and to make efforts to increase their liberty of styling.

fun of hunting vintage clothesFun of hunting at used clothes shops


I feel it’s not what we should do to become a “unisex” “genderless” brand which sell items “wearable for anyone”.

Selling only “gender neutral” loose-fit items like T-shirts, track suits, casual shirts etc, or selling “un-feminine” items which men (as gender identity) can wear without hesitation and showcasing the items on women, then calling ourselves a “unisex brand” or “genderless brand”…
These things wouldn’t even touch the big wall between “men’s clothes” and “women’s clothes” at all.

MIRCHI KOMACHI is a super micro brand who’s struggling to expand sizes due to its snail-like sales speed. How can we think about adding “a curvy dress for people with a broad shoulder and no boobs” on top of our inventory? Hahaha my brain would explode! But in the future… hell yeah.
The future lies in the made-to-order system which MIRCHI KOMACHI started recently. Maybe we can cover a pretty broad range of requirements by offering options like body types and silhouettes, followed by semi-customised pattern making, and production after receiving orders.

Anyway.
First of all, I decided to start from the description in our website.



Genderless And Clear Description? Hmmm….
About the description in our website, I gave a lot of thoughts and am still searching for a better way.
As for the loose-fit items like pull-over hoodie and boiler suit, anyone can wear them based on the chest & hip size. But for items like blazer jacket, we’d like to convey some information like “best-fit body types” or “the aimed silhouette”.
(Based on the clear understanding of these, it’s totally up to each person to choose/style regardless of their body gender/type!)

As of now, I decided to add descriptions below in most of the product pages:

For the items we made from “female-body” basic pattern:
Made from the “female-body” basic pattern.
I.E. Has bust darts/space. Narrower-shouldered. Curvier silhouette with wider gap between bust/chest - waist - hip.

For the items we made from “male-body” basic pattern:
Made from the “male-body” basic pattern.
I.E. No bust darts. Broader-shouldered. Supports the muscles of the back and arms. Non-curvy silhouette.

But these descriptions are not easy to understand and I’m not happy at all.
If you can think of better ways, please please let me know!

In future, maybe we’d offer options to select body type and silhouette etc., and semi-customise each item like:
No bust darts. Broad shoulder and back muscles would fit nicely. Curvy silhouette with shaped waist-hip line.

Harry Styles for VogueHarry Styles for Vogue



Degendering In Progress
I am inspired by and learning from the younger generations every day.
MIRCHI KOMACHI’s degendering has just started, and will evolve little by little.
In my old blog posts, I must have used the words like “feminine” “masculine”, exactly with the meaning society expects. Ugh.
But they were written by 2018 me, 2019 me, in the earlier stage of unlearning. So I would not edit them (basically!) as if I was in the better stages that time.

Requests to the MIRCHI KOMACHI fam, please let us know your suggestions about the description on our website, feedback, or wishes like “I want to have so-and-so item for so-and-so body!” “I can’t find so-and-so colours/prints for so-and-so body!”.
Feel free to leave comments below, or email/DM us.
We’re (I am) all ears.

 

Bonus Video
Throughout human history, musicians are one of the groups who keep their individual style regardless of society norms. It’s not that they are safe from receiving negative comments, but their fashion is likely to be accepted as artistic.
Their uniqueness is valuable commercially, too, so even record companies and magazines fuel them.

But I suppose it requires a lot of courage to start expressing oneself which is opposite of one's image after performing for decades, to risk the top position in the industry and millions of fans.

Kiyoshi Hikawa, born in 1977, is a singer who’s achieved the top popularity in the world of Enka since the debut in 2000. Enka is a popular Japanese music genre considered to resemble traditional Japanese music stylistically (from Wikipedia).
The major demographic of Enka fans is the middle-to-old-aged “uncles and aunties”. Kiyoshi has been loved by the craving fans, especially aunties.
He was young and had (has) a likeable cute face, but his fashion and behaviour had been totally of a “usual male Enka singer”.

But he finally made a decision. To be honest to himself and live his own life - perform and love.
He started singing pop songs and wore a costume like a glam rock singer at a stage. Then he started adding his taste so much to what he wears both for professional and private life.  

 

For the typical Enka fans who are considered to be pretty conservative, the transformation of "Prince Of Enka" must have been devastating. Kiyoshi himself said that there are always some people who criticise when someone does something different or new. But it seems that he couldn’t keep pretending like someone he wasn’t.

In his recent words after what Japanese people call “becoming genderless”, I feel the breeziness of a person who is enjoying his own skin.

And I even found a reaction video about him by drag queen YouTubers. It's a bonus for Bonus Video!

 


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