Lady Lovers is a fashion and lifestyle brand based out of California. They made dapperQ’s list of brands to watch in 2015, and their sleek, futuristic streetwear awed the crowd at Queer Fashion Week. So, we sat down with the visionaries behind Lady Lovers to get some exclusive insight about what inspires the brand and what fans can expect next:
dapperQ: Tell our readers a bit about Lady Lovers.
Iman: The clothing brand includes myself (Iman) as Creative Director and Jasmine Jennings (Jas) as Seamstress. I work a 12 hour job and Jas works overnight to pay for the materials and create these products. There are countless other friends and supportive individuals who we consider a part of the brand, but who don’t have defined roles.
Our mission is to build camaraderie among masculine lesbians who feel left out and marginalized by the straight world and the greater queer community.
I’m somewhat of an introvert and have lived most of my life in my head. I spent most of my youth playing organized sports. If it weren’t for those teams, I think I would have been even more isolated than I was. Playing on a team gave me the opportunity to interact with other people and communicate in a way that allowed me to express emotion using words and connect without using words. Creating for Lady Lovers is an outlet for me now and I would love for the brand to have a similar impact on others, making them feel as if they are part of a larger group that understands and appreciates them for who they are. Lady Lovers is essentially a clothing brand, but we’re really aiming to build community.
Jas prepping backstage at Queer Fashion Week
dapperQ: Can you tell me a bit about the history and evolution of Lady Lovers? What motivated you to start the brand?
Iman: Around my second year of college, I started using computer software to create visuals of thoughts and ideas that were important to me. I put a few ideas on some tees, but I never really made anything of it; just shared them with a few friends. I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do, but I kept at it and started building a business plan. In 2010, I completed the first ever Brown Boi Project (BBP) cohort and set goals of social entrepreneurship. Shortly after that, I fell in love with my girlfriend and created a blog called Young&Faithful. Through my relationship with BBP, I was awarded a micro loan through Kiva Zip. I designed some t-shirts and snapbacks (post-cliche), posted them on the blog and Instagram and the brand was born. Originally, the brand was called Young&Faithful and some of the designs on the tees said Lady Lovers. After awhile, people would come up to me asking for a “Lady Lovers hat.” So it’s really the supporters who chose the name.
How would you describe the Lady Lovers aesthetic?
Iman: Unapologetic. We don’t apologize for our masculinity. We don’t apologize for the perception of promiscuity and cliche butch stereotypes that precede us. And, we don’t apologize for our attitude. We define ourselves. We are the product of the queer and hip-hop communities and where one might see contradiction, we see art and influence.
dapperQ: What inspires your designs?
Jasmine: Simplicity accessorized. On a spiritual level, I’m inspired by love. I believe it still exists and still has the power to overcome all evil. On a material level, I’m inspired by lines, numbers, shapes and sizes. It’s simplistic but also chic and unique.
Iman: My designs are inspired by EVERYTHING, as it relates to a femme I’m attracted to. Dating isn’t everything in the lesbian community; it’s the only thing. So, sometimes, I like to design things that would help me standout in a crowd full of single lesbians and be noticed. And, other times, I’ll make fun of lesbian dating culture. Just depends on my mood I guess. My designs are basically a visual interpretation of all the things you go through and all the things you feel as a masculine of center woman when it comes to dating and loving women.
dapperQ: Tell us about the collection you featured at Queer Fashion Week?
Iman: This collection was like that, “going out with your bois for the first time after a long term relationship and even longer breakup” feeling. The windbreaker and the varsity jacket give you that team feeling. After that break up, you get to feeling a little weak or lost, so you go meet up with your crew. You might shoot some hoops, go out to a bar or a club, or just chill at the house, or all of the above. Either way, you’re with your squad – your team – and they bring you back; they ground you and rebuild you. When your spirit’s down, you don’t feel fun and you don’t feel sexy. But, when you get with your friends, you know it’s gonna be laughs and jokes and good times. They remind you of who you are, and before you know it, you’ve got your sexy back. We wanted to bring that feeling with the onesies: fun and sexy done the bois’ way. Bois aren’t one dimensional you know; we come in all shapes, colors and sizes, both physically and emotionally. And, for QFW, we wanted to make a statement. We wanted to acknowledge the walking conundrum that we can sometimes be for both the queer community and society at large We wanted to show our attitude so we put bois in dresses!
Lady Lovers varsity jackets
dapperQ: Can you describe for those who were not able to attend, what the experience/vibe/energy was like at Queer Fashion week?
Jas: Beautiful vibes!!! It felt like a different world I didn’t want to leave from. Everyone was so supportive and congratulating. It was inspiring and gave me an innovative look into the future. It was nothing but love in the building!!
Iman: This is my second Whatisbutch event, and, just like the first, QFW was amazingly organized and planned for chaos. Fallon whips everyone into to shape in just a matter of hours and the rest of the time is spent enjoying the space. I was kind of in a bubble backstage, but I got to see some of the collections right before they hit the runway. I could hear that the crowd was really into the show. It was exciting! I’m looking forward to next year.
Lady Lovers team at Queer Fashion Week opening party
dapperQ: Many of our readers have problems finding masculine clothes that fit them properly. How is Lady Lovers addressing this issue?
Jas: With more custom hand made pieces, individuals will have the opportunity to get more tailored pieces. It’s in the works, but a few pieces from the show were handmade work.
Iman: We are trying to be innovative in that way. For example, we’ve identified some issues with the fit of the t-shirt. Often times, the dopest, most comfortable t-shirts cling to our bodies in undesirable ways. This can be avoided by buying shirts that are super big or by wearing an extra shirt underneath the “dope” shirt. But, what if the dope shirt already had an extra layer of material that could prevent clinging and add comfort? That would be dope in itself. Samples are being made as we speak!
dapperQ: How does Lady Lovers stand out from some of the other recent queer clothing collections that have launched recently?
Iman: I think our influence from hip hop culture is what sets us apart from most queer collections. Hip hop is recognized internationally and it adds to our relevance. It’s also what leaves the door open for Lady Lovers to find success outside of the queer community.
Jas: Everybody loves the ladies. It’s universal and many can relate to the name “Lady Lovers.” It’s the work and craftsmanship in the line that brings it alive.
Lady Lovers models line up backstage at QFW
dapperQ: How would you describe your everyday style(s)?
Jas: My everyday style is simple but chic and unique. I like to be comfortable and warm. I’m usually cold a lot of the time so I like to wear layers. I clean up nice, but I prefer my designer sweats and Jordan’s
Iman: Hipster dad meets Black radical.
dapperQ: Has it been a journey defining your own personal style?
Iman: Thanks to newly dubbed trends like “athleisure,” I can get away with dressing like I’m in seventh grade again. I can wear basketball shorts and jerseys as underclothes and I can find dress shoes that are actually comfortable. So, my personal style journey has come full circle.
dapperQ: Who or what has most influenced your personal style?
Iman: Comfort has the biggest influence on what I wear.
Jas: My grandmother is the inspiration to a lot of my style. She’s so hip and such a fashionista. I learn from her because she’s still a W magazine reader and the wisdom beyond my years is what I indulge in!
dapperQ: Who are your fashion icons?
Jas: My grandma! I’ve never tried to follow the trends or what everyone else was doing because we were poor so I had to set my trends.
Iman: My fashion icons are the people who pioneered in the street wear industry before it really had a name. Nick Tershay (Diamond) Mega (Huf/Black Scale) Bobby Hundreds (The Hundreds) and of course the guys at Pink Dolphin.
dapperQ: What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?
Iman: A hat of some sort.
Jas: I don’t think there’s much I really love that much, but I ALWAYS am wearing a bandanna around my head. I probably def couldn’t live without one of those! I go weeks without haircuts so they def keep the edges down.
dapperQ: What can we expect next from Lady Lovers?
Iman: Better quality. A larger platform. QFW16.
*Feature image by Nye’ Lyn Tho