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Meet the woman behind the shoe brand that rejects gendered marketing

TSKENYA is a new shoe brand that specializes in larger sizes and doesn’t abide by gendered marketing.

The brand’s Kickstarter campaign recently ended and went incredibly well, making about £1,000 ($1,338.60; €1,137.73) over their fundraising goal.

GSN spoke to brand founder and design Tskenya-Sarah Frazer about the brand’s backstory, her inspirations, and the Code of Ethics every manufacturer and supplier the brand uses must adhere to.

Behind the brand

‘I am an intersectional feminist and it is a huge part of my identity. I am plus-size, working class black woman, who has felt excluded by the fashion industry on countless occasions,’ says 23-year-old Frazer.

‘Not being able to find shoes when I was growing up really affected my confidence and it took me a long time to realise that the issue wasn’t me, but rather the discriminatory fashion industry,’ Frazer states.

‘I don’t know why it is hard for brands to cater to all people and not use gendered language, I am small brand with barely any financial backing. If I can do it, multi-million pound companies can – they just don’t want to. They don’t see the value in including all people. People with larger sized feet have the right to access stylish shoes in their size.’

When creating the brand, Frazer spoke to many members of the LGBTI community about what they seek from a shoe company.

‘When I was interviewing my non-binary and trans siblings and they flagged that they felt uncomfortable going into shops to ask for their sizes it genuinely broke my heart,’ she recalls. ‘I know how that feels, but seeing the anguish in another person’s eyes completely moved me to realise that I had to do something. That the mission was bigger than me and my experiences, there were so many other people not being catered to. So many people not being able to exercise their true identities.’

‘Through listening to my LGBTQ+ siblings I hope to give them the brand that they feel continuously represented by. I hope to give all people with larger sized feet a brand that represents them!’

Kickstarter campaign

Upon realizing that her Kickstarter goal was exceeded, Frazer was ecstatic.

‘I spend the majority of my day breaking out into tears of joy,’ she says.

‘I have received so many emails and messages of support it is unreal,’ Frazer continues. ‘People can really see that I am taking a stand against gendered marketing and sizeism in fashion, and their support means the most to me. I do this for all “big footed” people around the world. I feel like we are all connected in our experience and I am passionate about positively changing that.’

LGBTI inspirations

When it comes to inspiration, Frazer looks to RuPaul.

‘RuPaul is one of my inspirations because of his grit and fearlessness, also, for the way that he has positively shone a light on the LGBTQ+ community,’ she explains.

‘Heterosexual people can be the worst, mainly because a lot of them don’t understand the diversity of what it means to be LGBTQ+ and because of sociological constructions most will never get close to understanding the community. RuPaul continuously fights to represent the LGBTQ+ community through his activism, show and music reaching a diverse audience. Just everything he does makes me feel that we would work brilliantly together and create something even more great. Plus I need to know the source of who does his lace front wigs, because a homegirl needs an upgrade!’

Against sweatshop labor

On taking a stand against modern-day slavery in the fashion industry, Frazer takes the responsibility very seriously. She makes sure that every manufacturer and supplier she works with adheres to a specific code of ethics.

‘TSKENYA operates a supplier policy and maintains a preferred supplier list,’ the document states. ‘We conduct due diligence on all suppliers before allowing them to become a preferred supplier.’

‘Our anti-slavery policy forms part of our contract with all suppliers and they are required to confirm that no part of their business operations contradicts this policy.’

To be sure, TSKENYA asks the brand to confirm that they pay their workers a living wage and have taken steps to eradicate sweatshop labor in their own business.

What’s next?

In terms of upcoming plans for the brand, Frazer is currently working on the new collection. She hopes to collaborate with other artists.

‘I would love to have guest designers for the brand, so will be working on that for the next couple of months,’ she says.

Anything else?

‘We take our allyship to all marginalised communities seriously, we want to provide the LGBTQ+ community with a brand that they know ride or dies for them and represents them unreservedly,’ Frazer states. ‘When we say we represent all people with bigger feet we mean it – regardless of their gendered identity. This is about the reclamation of all bodies that sit outside of Eurocentric sizing, so join us in making fashion a more inclusive domain.’

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