The Future (of VC gear) is Non-Binary
Your jersey company shouldn't care what gender you are. Let's get you a cut that fits your body type.
Your jersey has no gender. It's a shirt. A piece of fabric sewn together by someone who's never met you. How can that person put a label on a shirt – a label on you, really – without even asking you first?
More importantly, your jersey company shouldn't care what gender you are. Why should we have to ask/demand that you identify as either woman or man to determine what shirt you should order?
What if you don't identify as either a man or a woman? What if you do, but our gendered gear doesn't fit your body type?
What if we dared to be different and move past these labels in a way that we can–by evolving how we both design and label our products?
HERE'S WHERE WE ARE COMING FROM
Until very recently, the labels inside our shirts showed a stereotypical male or female symbol. We're embarrassed to show them here, but picture your classic man symbol and a woman wearing a dress.
That's when we started thinking about how we wanted to grow beyond that and came up with a plan to rethink how we talk about the fit of our jerseys. With the help of some really smart people in our community, we came up with the following guide which has since become our starting point.
LET'S BACK UP AND TALK ABOUT WHY...
Time and time again, we've come across subtle bullying in our merchandise tent.
- A father says to his thin son, "You're going to have to get a girl's jersey to fit you" while laughing at him.
- A group of boys tease a teammate for shopping in the "girls’ section".
- A strong female athlete is shy about trying on men's shirts that she knows fits her way better.
- A trans athlete feels unsafe and/or uncomfortable having to choose a gendered size jersey.
- A non-binary athlete feels excluded.
We have been part of the problem and now we want to be part of the solution. We want every single person who walks into our tent, shops in our online store, or orders their uniform from us to feel just as seen and valued as everyone else.
IT'S ALL ABOUT COMMUNICATION
We realize that we need to make sure we communicate any changes to our sizing classifications and product fits clearly.
Here's what our current labels look like (the blank circle in the middle usually has a size symbol in it):
What we're trying to do is to show the evolution from "women" to "fitted", "men" to "relaxed", and so forth. The fit/cut of our current Classic jerseys haven’t changed at this point, so you can still order the same size and expect the same fit you've come to love. This will continue to be the case as long as you see "women" or "men" on a label - we are just starting the processing and building familiarity with the language we are transitioning to.
MORE THAN WORDS
It's important that we clarify that throughout this process, we've never intended to simply rework the language. We're committed to doing the hard, resource-intensive, time-consuming work to do this right.
As we develop our non-binary products, we are looking at things like sleeve length, shoulder width, body length and width, as well as expanding our sizing scales to XXXS to XXXL.
We've started by developing an entirely new pattern with a different cut of sleeve and all-around fit. We've launched our non-binary Classic cut with a jersey style that has taken 3 years, for us to develop: The fully sublimated custom single layer Reversible jersey.
It's important that we think this through before changing our entire line, and that our valued customers know that we are committed to transparent communication during every part of this process; especially once it gets to the stage of figuring out what style, sizing and fit is best for you and your players.
We are asking for your input and help. Please comment on this post or contact us privately with your ideas, concerns, or questions.
Do you want to be a community feedback provider? Drop us a line and tell us why you think you'd be a good fit and we'll send you a complimentary sample to try out.
Thank you... and stay tuned!
The VC Team
Sincere thanks to our community of feedback friends who helped with this post. We know that we'll fall flat on our face at times as we talk about such important issues and your support helps us to learn, pick ourselves up and keep trying to do our best.