Wildfang: The Site Leading The New Tomboy Subculture

Just-launched online shop and community Wildfang.com had a waiting list before it even went live, and it’s turning the androgyny trend into a cool new cultural movement. German for tomboy, the Portland based website is the creation of Emma McIlroy and Jules Parsley, below, who, along with creative director Taralyn Thuot, wanted to create a shop dedicated to delivering men’s style to women.

Hot on the heels of ‘fused-gender’ fashions on the catwalk and gender-bending models – Casey Legler, the first female model to be signed up to a male division, is currently starring in All Saints’ spring campaign – Wildfang stocks over fifty brands that nail the boy-meets-girl look. Their motto? “This isn’t just a shop. It’s a movement”, and we’d say they’re definitely the leaders. Sadly, they don’t ship to the UK yet, but right now we’re just enjoying being a part of this uber cool online community. We caught up with the girls to get the lowdown on why you need to bookmark Wildfang, stat.

LOOK: How did the idea for Wildfang come about?

Jules Parsley: I remember the first time we had the idea. We were in the men’s department at a well-known store and Ems’ was looking at a men’s graphic tee that had Kate Moss on the front. I was staring at a blazer with patches on the elbows. I remember looking at Ems and saying “Why don’t they make this stuff for us?” And she didn’t really have an answer. We thought about it a lot, did a ton of consumer research and fast forward two and a half years later – here we are. 

LOOK: It sounds like so much more than an online shop, tell us more…

Emma McIlroy: We think tomboy is much more than just a style. It’s also an attitude. It’s about being confident, strong and paving your own way, while being cheeky and knowing how to have fun. We don’t think our girl has ever been allowed to be herself and be her best. She hasn’t had access to the clothes and tools and sources of inspiration to allow her to be who she wants to be. That’s where Wildfang comes in. We will free her. We will fuel her.  

LOOK: Why do you think the androgynous vibe is so huge right now?

Taralyn Thuot: If you look back over the years of fashion, androgyny has gone in and out of vogue on the runways, but menswear inspired style has been on the streets for the last century. It’s a timeless trend. That said, the 90’s are back and that means so are blazers and wingtips, creepers and high waisted skinnies.

LOOK: What sort of products can we expect from the site?

Emma McIlroy: You can expect to see over 50 brands in our collection by the time we hit autumn. Some of those brands you’ll know and some you won’t. We’ve worked really hard to find individual pieces which are truly tomboy. We’ll have a range of price points and everything from footwear and accessories to clothing. We can guarantee you that someone from our team tried on every piece before we bought it. It had to pass the Wildfang test.

LOOK: Who is your ultimate tomboy poster girl, past or present?

Jules Parsley: I’m a huge fan of Agyness Deyn.

Emma McIlroy: I think Annie Lennox and Alison Mosshart both scream tomboy in their attitude and style.

Taralyn Thuot: I’m gonna say Punky Brewster. I’m not 100% sure she made it to the UK though!

LOOK: We’ll Google her! So, what did you do before Wildfang?

Jules Parsley: I was at the Nike Foundation, doing international development work with adolescent girls in the developing world.

Emma McIlroy: I’ve been working in Brand Marketing at Nike for the last 6 years. I’m a brand marketing nerd and sports-obsessed, so I was in my dream job at Nike. Nike taught me to be consumer-obsessed.

Taralyn Thuot: I worked for Nike for nearly 10 years before I came to WF. In those 10 years, I lucked out with some of the raddest gigs the company has to offer from designing stores and energy spaces, to styling celebs and influencers.

LOOK: Which catwalk designers do you think really tap into the androgynous look? 

Taralyn Thuot: I think the designers I admire most that play in this filed are the ones that have really re-invented the adrogynous look…from Ann Demeulemeester in the 90s, to Alexander Wang in the 00’s, to Hedi Slimane with Saint Laurent today. 

LOOK: Andrej Pejic has become a huge catwalk presence, do you think that played a part in bringing the movement into the spotlight? 

Taralyn Thuot: I think removing the handcuffs on the traditional point of view of women’s product for women and men’s product for men is huge. This has been evident with Adrej Pejic but we have also seen that open the door for other campaigns, like Saskia de Brauw for Saint Laurent.

LOOK: Meanwhile, you’ve got Lea T starring in a Bennetton campaign and Casey Legler is modelling for All Saints this season, what do you think about the movement going more mainstream? 

Emma McIlroy: We say “it’s about time!”

LOOK: What do you think are the classic tomboy wardrobe staples?

Taralyn Thuot: Poplin button down shirt, Grandpa cardi, motorcycle jacket, bowler hat, bowtie, Letterman jacket…good god I can’t stop.

LOOK: Do you think you can embody the tomboy spirit and still be sexy? How can girls strike that balance?

Taralyn Thuot: I am a total believer the two are not mutually exclusive. The looks we style for Wildfang are built on this ethos.  It’s undeniable that effortless style is the best way to look and feel sexy.

Keep us updated on the shipping situation girls, we can’t wait! GG