On Monday morning we released our summer collection that included our new Wonder Woman Denim Jacket. Out of everything new we are creating this year, this is the one piece I am most excited for. Wonder Woman is FINALLY getting her own live action film after almost 40 years since Linda Carter’s iconic TV version. Fortunately, in the past few years, we have seen more social advocating for equal representation of gender, orientation, and race in our favorite comics, TV, and films. Much has changed. Much has not.
I knew when I made the decision to design a Wonder Woman Jacket (and shirt) that it would be met with some resistance since men have not been the traditional target market for Wonder Woman merchandise in the past. But I love disrupting things — and enough is enough. I grew up a fan of Wonder Woman as a kid and one of my all time favorite comic book runs was George Perez’s from the ’80s. From that series I learned that it was okay to have women as heroes. Batman and Superman shouldn’t just be for boys and Wonder Woman just for girls. Being a hero is about courage, sacrifice, and honor. Last time I checked, neither sex has a monopoly on those qualities. However, at a young age I couldn’t help but feel the enormous pressure of only representing heroes like Rambo, Rocky, and Mr.T and had accepted that as ‘normal.’ Flash forward to today.
What I love about fashion is that it is so much more than a way to support your fandom. It’s a blank canvas to express art. And art is meant to provoke, inspire, or offend. Art is meant to push social and cultural norms to force us to ask questions like “why?” Fashion can liberate a people group, celebrate rights for the marginalized, and raise awareness for the under resourced. I know to most, this is just a denim jacket. But for me, this is an opportunity to change the status quo. Not just for fellow fans but from the industry as well. I have met with several companies to pitch this denim jacket for their consideration in carrying it. Their response has been almost all the same. “We LOVE the idea but afraid that guys won’t support Wonder Woman — so we’ll pass on it.” Seriously? Even with one of the biggest movies of the year coming out, the market is afraid to put their dollars behind it. In those rooms, I felt like I was a kid again being asked to only like Rambo, Rocky, and Mr.T.
I have had many women heroes in my life. Asking author and leader, Nancy Beach, to mentor me 10 years ago was one of the most rewarding relationships in my life. She taught me to be comfortable in my own skin, to not be quiet in the presence of machismo, and to disrupt the status quo. I have two impressionable daughters and together we watch The CW’s Supergirl, read Ms. Marvel, and we will surely go see Gal Gadot kick Nazis in the mouth in June. I want them to not just think it’s okay for a woman to lead, but to BELIEVE that they can inspire and challenge ANYONE. It’s 2017 and it’s ridiculous that men have a hang up about wearing a shirt with a non-sexualized woman on it — especially since the opposite has been expected for women fans for decades. So my response to the guys that feel strongly that men wouldn’t wear a Wonder Woman jacket: It’s okay, it’s not for you.
With all this said, we’ve had a lot of praise from guys and girls alike over the new jacket (and the new Wonder Woman shirt), along with positive sales. But the bias and sexism is deeply seeded in every aspect of merchandising and it will take a lot more than a denim jacket to change that. But every little bit matters. I don’t blame the above commenters from Instagram and Facebook for their reaction. I’m sure they are all good people, no doubt shaped by the same experience I had my entire life. However, it’s time for a change and one jacket or one company can not do it alone.
So I am asking you to join me in this and help advocate in your own unique way. Support heroines and men that support them. You don’t have to buy anything from us — use your passion for heroes to shape culture. Regardless of gender, that’s what heroes do. What are your thoughts on this and am I missing something? Leave a comment below and lets discuss.
For most of his adult life, Tony Kim (@Crazy4ComicCon) has struggled to find fashion solutions that were both geeky and sophisticated. Like Kal-El traveling to Earth as a baby, the journey of interesting nerd apparel has been long and lonely. Then he and Michael Lew began collaborating on a number of fashion projects inspired by Tony’s love for San Diego Comic-Con. By early 2015, it became clear that it was time for something different. Hero Within was born.