After much anticipation, Re-Inc released its first full streetwear collection on Monday. The line includes T-shirts, joggers, bike shorts, crop tops, hoodies, and other comfortable but stylish apparel.
The self-proclaimed gender-neutral lifestyle brand is run by four athletic superstars from the USWNT: Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, and Meghan Klingenberg. The company is original not only because of its mission, but also because all four women are CEOs.
Purely in terms of design, I love this collection. The muted red, white, and blue work well for matching sets, and bear the added symbolism that the creators describe as “a nod to our World Cup journey this summer.” In addition to sending a message about the importance of gender-neutral clothing options, Re-Inc is also asking its audience to reflect on the meaning of patriotism and redefine it in the process.
It’s a lofty goal, and I think I’d really enjoy it — if the shorts didn’t cost $90. Or if the hoodies weren’t $150. Even the socks are $25.
The crop tops are comparatively cheaper at $60 each. Since the full-length T-shirts are $75, this begs the question: what happens to that $15 strip of fabric that gets cut off? If they were to put that on the website, it would be the cheapest item available.
I’m a lesbian who dresses on the more androgynous side and I love a good pair of joggers and a comfortable hoodie. I really wanted to like this brand, but I’m finding myself challenged by those price tags. While college students with mildly crushing student-loan debt maybe weren’t the target audience of this collection, I think it’s important to look critically at what this means for Re-Inc’s messaging.
To be completely fair, Re-Inc isn’t the first fashion venture by celebrity athletes to sell clothes with a higher price tag than what the average consumer could afford. It isn’t even the first startup to try to fill this niche market with expensive gender-neutral clothes. It would be irresponsible to blame these four athletes for a much larger trend of economic inaccessibility in gender-neutral fashion.
And it’s also hard to judge when these athletes deserve more attention and pay for the work that they do, especially when their messaging is so powerful. Brands like this serve a community of people who can face major obstacles at traditional brick-and-mortar clothing stores when they try to dress comfortably. Crossing that physical boundary between the men’s and women’s sections of clothing stores is still a challenge, even in 2019.
LGBT designers also face economic hurdles, including a lack of the funding and marketing that mainstream clothing companies get, according to Mashable. Prices also jump when designers seek to ethically source their materials and pay a fair wage to manufacturers.
But it’s still hard for me to stomach the idea of a pair of shorts costing $90 at a company whose mission is to “reimagine the status quo.” When gender-neutral companies are by-and-large charging steep prices for their clothing, they’re losing a major audience of people who already have enough barriers dressing comfortably. And because of that it’s a challenge to support Re-inc, at least financially.
All that aside, I will admit that I do want the $150 joggers, but since I’m not a famous athlete I’ll have to settle for looking at them online.