Feministee Is a Unisex Line Committed to Championing Gender Equality Through Language and Fashion
Steffy Fogain, Founder of Feministee
My name is Steffy Fogain and I was born in Cameroon, briefly lived in France, before immigrating to Toronto, Canada, where I currently reside. As a third-culture kid who had to navigate cross-cultural differences, I naturally developed a protean personality. My mother is a multi-hyphenate who taught me early on to increase my cultural and social capital by variegating my interests. From politics, to social studies, to fashion and gastronomy, I'm always drawn to the underbelly of things, thrilled to unearth what is intentionally concealed or inadvertently overlooked. It's this visceral curiosity that led me to question the phallocratic status quo and eventually take actions in favour of gender equality.
Feministee is a unisex line of apparel and accessories committed to championing gender equality through language and fashion. It acts as an appendage to the existing socio-political conversations and praxes in favour of gender equality. Feministee is an instrument of self-expression, activism, and awareness-building. It's a means for gender equality advocates to unabashedly profess their feminism and shatter fallacies about feminism (like the trite idea that feminists are misandrists).
Feministee is also a mechanism to raise funds for the Panzi hospital, founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege. Since 1996, over six million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Panzi Hospital offers a safe healing space that supports not only the physical healing of the survivors of sexual violence, but fosters their emotional recovery, helps to rebuild their livelihoods and contributes to the long-term, sustainable restoration of their communities.
The idea of Feministee began to germinate after I read bell hooks' "The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love". The book solidified my viewpoints on patriarchy and drove me to proudly affirm myself as a feminist. I began to look for apparel with feminist slogans, but fell short either because of affordability, or product quality, or lack of transparency in the companies' supply chains. I also noticed that a lot of the feminist apparel that caught my eye was only available around March, leading up to International Women's Day. So I thought, why not create a product of my own that is affordable, made ethically, and available all year round?
In today's voguish t-shirt industry, Feministee stands out as an attentive brand. Our unisex styles coupled with our broad range of sizes (from XS-5XL), our philanthropic commitment to survivors of sexual violence in DRC, and our sustainable efforts reflect that we care. We are involved in a constant process of caring, about where our clothes are made, how they're made, who models them, who photographs them, and who wears them. At every step of the ideation, development and refinement of a product, brands have an opportunity to exclude or include. We choose the latter.
We also view our social channels as more than marketing tools, they're vectors of information and awareness. Within our orbit, we create dialogues that can inspire folks to act against gender-based inequities. Whether it's highlighting the illustrious work of a women's rights defender or offering tips on how people can be allies to the cause in their day-to-day, we want to disseminate information online that can beget change offline.
Hands down the "Feminists are not misandrists" tee. It's the first slogan I came up with and it's a phrase I religiously utter whenever I engage in discussions about feminism. The demonization of feminism through its association with misandry (hatred towards men) is used as a separatist tactic to silence and ostracize feminists, and to prevent the masses, specifically men, from identifying with the movement. You'll hear people say "I'm not a feminist, but I'm a womanist, a humanist, and a gender-equality advocate." They come up with a cornucopia of synonyms to distance themselves from the movement, when in reality, the causes they espouse are identical to the feminist cause.
Feminism is before all else a movement advocating the equality of all sexes. It condemns all forms of sexism, racism and gendered oppression, from 130 million girls currently out of school globally to men being 4x more likely than women to commit suicide in the US. Feminists believe in everyone's right to self-determine and reach their full potential. This shirt is a reminder of that.
Despite the complexities tied to launching an affordable, ethical and sustainable brand in this climate, we try to be sustainable throughout the entire supply chain.
• Our fabrics are manufactured in WRAP-certified transparent environments in the USA and Nicaragua.
• Our white tees are made of organic cotton and polyester from recycled PET bottles. Each shirt saves 4 plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill.
• Our manufacturers in LA use efficient dye machines that use 7x less water than average clothing manufacturers, which saves millions of gallons of water a week. Any water used goes through a filtration system that allows it to be recycled.
• 100% of profits made from our "I Believe Them" go to the Panzi hospital. We also donate 15% of profits from all other sales to the hospital.
Our nascent brand is constantly evolving and we want to get to a stage where we are creating zero waste. We're not quite there yet, but we're on our way.