Both& takes a community-based approach to designing clothes to meet the needs of those seeking garments outside of the typical binary sizing system. This includes surveying and speaking to members of the LGBTQ+ community during all parts of research and development processes to design functional and stylish t-shirts and other tops for the brand’s capsule collections.
“There’s a lot of things that motivate me,” Both& CEO and Founder Finnegan Shepard said. “I think the broader philosophical thing is that I don’t come from fashion. I’m doing this based on research and experience and conversation with people, but I’m not attached to growing the styles in a way that strokes my ego at all. We’re really sort of evidence-based design first, which is a really different way of building something. And I think honestly, that’s why we have such good responses from the community and why people are so excited about what we’re doing.”
And Shepard’s goal for the pop-up — which featured designs from both the existing first capsule and upcoming Capsule 2 collection, as well as branded tote bags and postcards — was to continue reinforcing the collaborative aspect of the line.
“I always hope in person — which has been essentially impossible to do during Covid — that people realize just how open the door for feedback is. People will DM me asking about a fit or size or whatever, and I literally get on an Instagram video with them and I’m in my basement showing them shirts; it’s really grassroots,” Shepard explained. “There’s not a point at which we’re gonna get so big that we stop talking, everything we do depends on that.”
The brand’s mission also encompasses values like sustainability, ethical production, and inclusive pricing, including a pay-it-forward program that lets individuals donate towards a fund that provides free garments to those unable to afford them. Percentages of proceeds are often donated to GoFundMe accounts of members in the community.
So far, reactions to Both& (which launched in 2020) have been overwhelmingly positive, including a less than 1% return rate and even more personal testimonials from customers.
“I have these videos of a person putting on a shirt for the first time and they’re staring at themselves in the mirror and they’re like, ‘I feel like I see myself for the first time,’” Shepard recalled.
In terms of what’s on the horizon, the brand will be dropping the Capsule 2 collection online soon, while also planning to expand the ‘Both& abroad’ series, a crowd-sourced photojournalism project highlighting Both&’s clothing in various locales around the world.
“I’m very excited to have a bit more of a broad representation of this community,” Shepard said. “I really do believe that we’re off by orders of magnitude and how big this market is; I do really believe that it will grow and that a lot of people can benefit from it.”