We Wear the Pants, a #MeToo Denim Line, Has Critics Distressed

The expensive line excludes low-income earners and its size restrictions exclude plus-size women. So much for female empowerment.

June 20, 2018
4 mins read

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, some companies have reevaulated their gendered pay imbalance. Others have decided to hire more female representation in the executive departments. And, in a completely different vein, We Wear the Pants released a clothing line.

We Wear the Pants was created in 2017, when co-founders Marta Goldschmied and Gabrielle Meyers decided that they needed a creative new outlet for their rage over the flood of sexual harassment news stories. The result of their anger was We Wear the Pants, a denim capsule collection that debuted in the middle of last week.

The collection includes three items: dark wash skinny jeans, a dark wash denim jacket and a t-shirt. The two denim items are emblazoned with news articles from The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Boston Globe, all of which address sexual harassment in the workplace. As Gabrielle Meyers said to The New York Times, “We wanted to be clear about this being an institutional issue, not just about individual bad actors.”

Ten percent of the line’s sales go to the National Women’s Law Center to support victims of sexual abuse and harassment. Seems like a great idea with a great message, no?

We Wear the Pants
Two models sport denim from the collection, which critics have lambasted for its hypocrisy. (Image via The New York Times)

The problem with We Wear the Pants is not the intention, but the execution. The collection is priced rather ridiculously, with the t-shirt costing $57, the jeans going for $250 and the jacket clocking in at $375. Sure, when the prices are this high, then that donated 10 percent comes to quite a hefty sum, but that’s beside the point.

The exorbitant prices mean that the clothing line is unavailable to low-income earners, and those are the women that are most vulnerable to sexual abuse. Additionally, the collection only goes up to a size 10, thereby effectively alienating scores of plus-sized women who are also more likely to have been sexually abused.

What’s more, people hate the collection because of the design itself. The stories printed on the fabric explicitly detail rape, abuse and sexual harassment. It makes sense that women who have experienced such cruelty might not want to have those words stamped onto their bodies. Some things are better left on a computer screen.

Is We Wear the Pants actually trying to serve the members of the population who have lived through sexual abuse, or is it merely trying to profit off an of-the-moment news trend? Many people online are arguing for the latter, and have compared the denim collection to SNL’s 2017 comedy sketch entitled “Levi’s Wokes.”

In response to the backlash against the capsule collection, Goldschmied and Meyers issued a statement that was, in part, dedicated to defending their pricing and sizing decisions.

“Regarding pricing, we sincerely did everything that we could to address the price of the garment but we made a conscious decision to create the jeans with ISKO in an environmentally sustainable manner and the cost of those processes are reflected in the price and quality of the products. We… have fully listened to the constructive feedback and demand for making larger sizes available beyond the size 10.”

Still, it remains to be seen whether this politically driven fashion line can go beyond making a provocative statement to empower the women it seeks to.

Cameron Andersen, New York University

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Cameron Andersen

New York University
Cultural Anthropology and Gender & Sexuality

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