“I can’t find clothes that fit me and affirm my identity.” “There are no brands designing clothing for our community.” “I hate shopping in mainstream stores because the sales people treat me with disrespect.” These are just a few of the many frustrations our readers share with us about their shopping experiences. But, HauteButch, a masculine clothing brand for all genders, is here to provide dapperQs with more options. However, since the mass markets are failing our community, we have to build from within. To do this, HauteButch requires grassroots funding, which you can now contribute to on their Kickstarter page.
“Embrace the Brand That Embraces You” is HauteButch’s slogan. Although their clothing is purposely designed and finished with masculine details, HauteButch is destined to move with, between and beyond the social boundaries that discourage people from their own gender expression. They are declaring their independence from the norm and sharing their concept of masculine fashion utilizing a fluid approach, with regard to gender.
Many of their customers are straight women and even some straight men. They don’t wish to exclude anyone from wearing their line. Simply put, if it fits your body, style and personality, they embrace you.
So, we sat down with Karen Roberts, designer and founder of HauteButch, to talk about what’s new, now, and next for the brand.
dapperQ: Can you tell us a bit about the history and evolution of HauteButch? What motivated you to start the brand?
Karen Roberts: I decided it was important based first on my own lack of fashionable alternatives as a professional butch woman, followed by the expressed, shared frustration of my peers. Our fit and style preferences were not met in the mainstream retail arena and we weren’t necessarily welcome in the men’s department. I wanted clothes that I could relate to and feel confident in. The mission of the brand along with the collection continues to evolve.
dapperQ: How would you describe the HauteButch aesthetic?
KR: I’m drawn to clean lines with an interesting or unique detail somewhere on the garment that makes it special in some way. Being aware that not everyone wishes to sport a button up and bowtie/skinny tie, or a classic men’s styled suit…I look to blend the best of menswear and womenswear in such a way that the two complement each other and the silhouette of the individual wearing the garment.
We create clothing and accessories for fashion conscious individuals who really want to put some thought in to where they’re going and what they wish to convey that day, all of which influences their chosen attire. I believe that our clothes speak on behalf of HauteButch before we utter a single word.
Model Meredith Slater representing HauteButch at dapperQ’s runway show at the California Academy of Sciences. Photo by Miki Vargas.
dapperQ: What inspires your designs?
I am always studying designers, new and classic pieces. I’m inspired by old movies, architecture and art. I’m also inspired by the type of designs my community expresses a deep interest in having made available to them.
dapperQ: Many of our readers have problems finding masculine clothes that fit them properly. How is HauteButch addressing this issue?
KR: The issue of “fit” is a complex one. In my opinion, it’s the most important aspect of this endeavor. Otherwise, what’s the point? To date, we have worked with two very talented seamstresses and a few of the same fit models of varying body types in an attempt to accommodate sizes XS-3X. We acknowledge that there are no bodies that are identical to one another, therefore we do go the extra mile in our contemplation and collaboration to determine size and fit to the best of our abilities, while at the same time, accepting feedback from our customers and incorporating that when it applies.
dapperQ: How does HauteButch stand out from some of the other recent suit lines that have been launched to smash the gender-binary?
KR: HauteButch isn’t a suit line and that’s not to say that we will never venture into that space; but for now, it’s not our focus. We are the first US-based LGBTQ lifestyle brand from the line of recent companies to have such a well-rounded collection of clothes, shoes and accessories.
With a line of body-wear, outerwear, footwear, casual and dress-wear, in addition to hats and accessories – We’re not focused in one area alone. We want to take over your closet and become a one stop shop for butch and androgynous style-seekers.
Model Marchelle Watkins representing HauteButch at dapperQ’s runway show at the California Academy of Sciences. Photo by Meg Allen.
dapperQ: How would you describe your everyday style?
KR: My everyday style is super casual, especially since launching HauteButch. Prior to the launch, I dressed primarily in vests, crisp dress shirts or blazers and dress shirts paired with skinny legged jeans or something drop crotch-like and unique, masculine shoes. But, that attire doesn’t quite fit my life these days. I’m always on the move. Most of the time, you can find me in shorts, sweats or jeans and something perhaps more interesting paired with it…sharp shoes or a cool vintage sweater. But, mostly I’m comfortable. These days, it’s not about me, it’s about HauteButch and manifesting that vision that I share with countless numbers of people.
dapperQ: Has it been a journey defining your own personal style?
KR: Yes it has been. When I was younger, I dressed much more masculine from head to toe. During my tour in the military, I felt less free to walk around the base or even be seen out in the clubs on the weekend because you could be dishonorably discharged merely based on suspicion alone. When I got out, I felt a very deep need for the freedom to express myself by what I wore. I bought quite a lot of gorgeous vintage men’s shirts from thrift stores and I l loved suspenders, hats and ties like crazy. Later, I moved into a phase of adding some feminine components to my style: bracelets, belts or earrings. Yet, I still identified with and felt very masculine in manner and dress. My style continues to evolve and change. While I may not always be comfortable with change, it’s an element in my life that keeps me growing and expanding.
dapperQ: Who are your fashion icons?
KR: The designers that I look to for inspiration include Phillip Lim; Alexander McQueen; Bottega Veneta; Carolina Herrera; Jean Paul Gaultier; Rick Owens; Vivienne Westwood; Rag and Bone; Salvatore Ferragamo; and Yohji Yamamato.
dapperQ: What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?
KR: A blazer that I can wear with any and everything.
dapperQ: What can we expect next from HauteButch?
KR: Currently we are producing a handsome new collection of button up shirts and our Gotham jacket that was designed and crafted with the utmost care and sophistication. We have obsessed over fit, fabrics and finishes to be able to proudly offer a fashion brand to the community that we love and honor. In the near future, we’ll be offering two gorgeously masculine tuxedo shirts which we’re very excited about bringing to market accompanied by military inspired vests and eventually a line of trousers. We also hold steadfast to the vision of producing our XX-HAUTE line that accommodates sizes 4X-6X.