A while ago I stumbled apon Bluestockings Boutique (@BluestockingsBo) on twitter and was beyond delighted: This is a queer lingerie boutique, with the motto "underthings for everyone". Can it be real? Am I dreaming?
This is how Jeanna Kadlec, the founder of Bluestockings Boutique, describes her vision:
I founded Bluestockings Boutique to empower people who have been marginalized by the mainstream lingerie industry and to offer them an experience that reflects their bodies, their identities, and their values. The store’s motto is “underthings for everyone,” because I believe that everyone deserves a safe, affirming experience.
That does sound amazing. A bit more research showed that Bluestockings Boutique is just not there yet - but will be, and that very soon. An online boutique will be opening its doors in spring 2015!
Jeanna Kadlec, the founder, was kind enough to answer a lot of my nosy questions - I wanted to know so much about the behind the scenes stuff!
I mean, intersectional lingerie? awesome.
1) It has only been a couple days since I first heard of you and your business: You are going to create an intersectional queer lingerie boutique! Wow. This is something that is so lacking in the lingerie landscape! What was the moment that really settled it for you, why did you decide to not just let it be a fantasy but go through with it?
It was one of those ideal “click” moments: once I thought of the idea, I knew I had to do it. What ultimately sealed it for me was realizing that there really isn’t anyone else doing this, at least in the United States.
2) A safe space to shop for underthings for queer people otherwise excluded from mainstream shops - that sounds like a dream. Have you thought about doing an online shop or will it be brick and mortar only?
We will be online in spring 2015, with the goal of eventually having a brick and mortar store. I initially envisioned Bluestockings as a brick and mortar store exactly because of what you say: people who are used to being on the margins don’t have safe spaces to shop for underthings. I think some spaces can be safer (particularly for white, femme-presenting people), but safe? That’s hard to find! However, start-up costs for a brick and mortar store in Boston are prohibitively large, so I decided to start online instead, which my friends in other cities were really happy about.
3) I loved your blog post about “Where can LGBT people buy lingerie?” If you had to sum it up in a few sentences, what are your key aspects for YOUR shop?
Representation is not an idea—it’s a practice.
No one can be all things to all people, Bluestockings included. But here’s what we can do. We can carry more than 32-38 A-D, which the industry regards as normative. We can carry options outside the high femme styles most boutiques (exclusively) carry. I am trying like hell to get in touch with wholesale contacts for binders and trunks that would allow packing. I’ve been reading a lot of trans blogs and websites and learning about shapewear that trans and genderqueer women use.
As we grow and learn more about what our customers want and need, we will hopefully be able to bring more customized options to them.
4) I've read that you not only want to be as inclusive as possible but also try to be a socially just business and want to have a positive impact. How do you want to do that?
For me, a lot of this comes down to being a feminist, honestly. I’m an academic in my day job, and feminist pedagogy, at its best, is about empowering people to take action in their community. So a lot of doing business in a socially just way has to do with supporting who I see as my community: namely, other women and queers who are small business owners and designers. It’s such a pleasure to connect with people and to help bring people together. More broadly, I want to support businesses who have ethical labor and manufacturing practices.
5) What are your two favourite underwear pieces?
Right now, I am in love with Play Out’s boxer briefs, which are wicked comfortable. And I splurged on Panache’s “Clara” balconnet bra and matching panty set in black and gold for the holiday season, which is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in recent memory.
6) Your most hated lingerie ad trope?
When a woman is sitting on a chair and has her legs splayed open. Submissive poses can be appropriate if you’re advertising bondage and/or BDSM gear, but in mainstream lingerie, poses that are obviously playing to the male gaze generally make me do an automatic back button.
7) Something that’s surprised you?
How many straight women have expressed their excitement for this boutique—which I suppose shouldn’t have come as a surprise. There are a number of stereotypes associated with lingerie boutiques that I think are tremendously damaging for straight women. As much as I explicitly talk about how Bluestockings is geared to the LGBTQ population, when the tagline reads “underthings for everyone”, it really does mean everyone. I think that heteronormativity in fashion creates and controls “straight” sexuality just as it excludes and stigmatizes queerness, and that is damaging and hurtful to everyone. There isn’t one way to “do” your sexuality, your personal expression, your life: this is what Bluestockings is about.
I am totally psyched about this and for me it sounds even more awesome since there will be an online boutique - after all I'm not from the Boston Area and this means I would be able to shop there. Yaaay! That means all the androgyn styled bralets, knickers, boxers, binders for me. yaaay <3
If you want to go the extra mile and help this vision come to a great start, check out the ongoing crowdfunding campaign on TILT.
Also there is an awesome read on QWEAR about Bluestockings Boutique, be sure to check it out!
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