When Brooklyn-based Crystal González, a 23-year-old management consultant, and Ivette Alé, a 25-year-old Southern California native with a keen mind for fashion got together, it was only a matter of time before they launched Marimacho – a clothing line for trans men and masculine-identified women. “Marimacho” is derived from the Spanish derogatory term “marimacha” used to belittle those who are gender-nonconforming. The brand’s concept emerged from the simple need to wear clothing that is both fitting and fashionable. Since then, the duo has embarked on designing seasonal threads for the queer fashionista. Swimwear from Marimacho’s summer clothing line, for example, provides a style and comfort that is unique to the needs of the LGBTQ community.
How did Marimacho get started?
Crystal: It was an idea that I had when I was in college. Being a masculine-identified woman, it is very hard to find clothing. As I got more into thinking about the way I was dressing and presenting myself, I saw how difficult it was to find nice things to wear?[When] I met Ivette [I] talked to her more about what I wanted to do.
Ivette: When I met [Crystal] I had just started grad school. It was just an idea that she presented to me and asked me to help her with it. I ended up leaving grad school and moving to New York to be with Crystal without knowing what I was going to do.
Did you have any prior business experience?
Crystal: Ivette and I always joke about this because one day we are going to realize that all we did was read a book.
Ivette: To be fair we both studied economics, and I worked in the business side of fashion and Crystal works in management consulting, solving problems for very large businesses. It is a very different process being an entrepreneur as supposed to working for a business. Not only do you have to come up with a concept, [but] you have to do all the managing and artistic development around it.
Ivette, did growing up near LA have any influence in your work?
Ivette: L.A. culture is something that really inspired my aesthetic. I was part of the music subculture there and was into the rockabilly scene.
What is your inspiration for this project?
Ivette: The fact that there is a need for this inspires us. No one else out of the community will create these clothes the way that we are creating them. A lot of our inspiration comes from vintage fashion, which is part of my aesthetic, so mixing Victorian style with a little punk and a little edge. That is the inspiration for this specific collection.
Crystal: Inspiration for the business itself was driven out of necessity. I think if you talk to most of gender queer female body persons they will tell you they have trouble finding these kinds of things. That’s what drives me. It’s great when people see our samples and the photos with our models people and say, “Wow, that’s awesome. I can’t wait to buy your shit.”
Are trying to keep it affordable?
Ivette: We will sell our clothes by season. This season we have a vest, a bomber, a button down shirt, and accessories. We kept it small this time around. We wanted to get a better sense of what people want.
Crystal: The idea it is to have it accessibly priced. We can’t have it quite as low as H&M because we don’t produce abroad or in large batches. With that being said we don’t want to price it too high so that people can’t afford it. There are things that are also important to us like producing locally and using high quality fabrics, real leather, and we don’t outsource.
How have people been receiving your work?
Crystal: We have gotten emails from people all over the country and all over the world. To be honest, we have just gotten a lot of love.
Are there any other people dedicated to creating this type of clothes?
Crystal: There are other companies making T-shirts and some accessories. But we are more focused on fashion.
Ivette: There is a big distinction between creating clothes and creating fashion. We are doing it seasonally and tapping into the aesthetic of the queer community. There is a different creative process to it.
Crystal: There are a bunch of websites built around this idea of queer fashion, like DapperQ, that are adding momentum for this kind of celebration of gender queer fashion.
Has your Latin@ identity factored in your work?
Crystal: I think that from the very concept of the name, yes. It is something that I grew up hearing. The power behind that word really made an impact for me. It was used to demean a group of people, so we are reclaiming it, and that feeling is very empowering.
Where would you like to see Marimacho in the future?
Crystal: We want to open a retail location here on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, and eventually we want to create other items. Right now we have shirts and outwears but we want to make shoes, bags, and custom made suits.
You can visit their site at marimachobk.com/