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These Sisters Are Creating A Future For Gender-Neutral Footwear

"We believe the concept of breaking fashion down into 'women’s' and 'men’s' is outdated, limiting and unproductive."

A pair of sisters from San Francisco want to change the landscape of the fashion industry by creating a type of footwear that is truly gender-neutral.

Sarah and Rachel Waxman, now based in Berlin and NYC respectively, are the minds behind Matriarch, a menswear-inspired footwear campaign for women, men and non-binary individuals. 

The pair say that their inspiration for the campaign stems from their mutual love of traditional menswear show styles, but an inability to find them in sizes that fit their feet.

"People who do not ascribe to traditional notions of masculinity or femininity aren’t anything new either, and we think it’s time that the retail landscape finally starts to reflect this," they told The Huffington Post.

Matriarch is currently engaged in a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund their first production order. Check out an interview with the Waxman sisters below.

What is your goal with Matriarch?
Sarah Waxman: Our goal with Matriarch is to bring the quality typical of men’s footwear to all genders and do it in the most sustainable way possible. With Matriarch we aim to erase the boundaries between clothing deemed “appropriate” for men and women and offer conscious consumers better options.  

 
We are two women who love menswear style and have always been frustrated at never finding what we want in our size -- particularly when it comes to footwear. We know this is not unique to us -- so many other women, trans, and non-binary folks have expressed this same issue. We wanted to fill this gap.
 
My background is in industrial design/footwear design so we are big proponents of letting beautiful materials speak for themselves. This influenced our choice to use vegetable-tanned leather exclusively. We think veggie tan is great because it develops a patina unique to each wearer over time. We prefer an honest material over something like a painted leather -- at that point why use leather at all? Vegetable tanned leather is also great because it is naturally processed. It gets its natural coloring from soaking in tree bark tannins -- the ancient, traditional way of tanning leather. It is also biodegradable. If you put our shoes in the ground, the leather will disappear after 100 years.

Why is it important that we have gender-neutral footwear options?
We believe the concept of breaking fashion down into “women’s” and “men’s” is outdated, limiting and unproductive. People who do not ascribe to traditional notions of masculinity or femininity aren’t anything new either, and we think it’s time that the retail landscape finally starts to reflect this.

What do you hope the future of fashion holds in terms of gender neutrality? 

We hope that "gender neutral" loses its "trend" status and becomes more understood as a normal way of identifying one’s self. We hope that in the (near) future, anyone of any gender will be able to walk into a store and never have to feel bad or awkward or uncomfortable browsing in any particular section.

Head here to visit the Kickstarter campaign for Matriarch.

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