Exclusive interview with Katie McGloin, Founder of K.T. Clothing in Ireland
K.T. Clothing is a gender-neutral clothing line that allows people to wear their preferred style of clothing that makes them feel comfortable, no matter what their gender. Founder Katie McGloin promotes the reduced need for gender roles in modern society as a public speaker and activist on issues such as LGBTQ+ equality, gender identity and feminism, which drives her to run a business that ‘achieve goals without gender roles’. Lucky for us, we recently had the opportunity to interview Katie.
What drives you to run a gender-fluid business in Ireland?
Gender-neutral is defined by being suitable for, applicable to or common to both male and female genders. I am a firm believer that gender is a spectrum, we all lie somewhere on it, so there should be clothes there to accommodate you without feeling like ‘well I like this item of clothing, but I am a woman and it is listed as menswear so I cannot wear it’ and vice versa. It seems to me that ‘we are evolving but our ideas of gender are not’ to put it like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Our attitudes to clothing are so important. I’ll admit, mine was negative for a long time. I felt uncomfortable in what was ‘normal’ for people my age and gender. That was the sole reason I created K.T. Clothing, to allow people to have some sort of comfort in their clothing. The unexpected thing for me was the confidence that it gave me to wear what I want.
I believe that the clothes we are wearing are just clothes. Like literally pieces of fabric sewn together, that’s it. But you see, we add the unnecessary Boys/Girls/Mens/Womens labels ourselves. It is the labels that impose the stereotypes and the stereotypes that are dangerous. Have you ever been to a clothes shop and in your head been like ‘wow, that’s lovely, but I can’t wear it without feeling judged.’? Regardless of our identities or our sexualities: clothes are important to the way we feel about ourselves and how comfortable we are with ourselves.
What kind of framework have you developed or adopted to help build a purpose-driven organisation?
At K.T. Clothing, I personally design every piece of clothing that is then developed into an end product. My clothing line is set up to help people feel comfortable in their preferred style of clothing. The company mission is not just a line, every item of clothing is completely gender-neutral.
The other area I want to cover is being very affordable to my customers. I feel that sometimes gender-neutral clothes can be very overpriced. There needs to be some middle-ground for people who require gender-neutral clothing to be able to access it. There is no set gender for any of our items and they can be worn in a number of different styles depending on the individual.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt from running your business so far?
Not everybody is going to agree with you. It seems very fundamental but being someone who is very accepting and very much a live and let live person, I found it hard to see how people could begrudge somebody something, especially when it doesn’t affect them and hurts literally no one. But you have to dust yourself off and get back up and keep going, that’s the second biggest lesson I’ve learnt, I suppose!
What brands and thinkers do you admire and why?
I am lucky to have a lot of people I admire - the list is endless! The first is probably Gloria Steinem, one of the founding mothers of modern feminism, who once said: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” We need to realise that inequality and fight for it, even if it doesn’t affect us. We need to use our privilege to be the voices that aren’t as fortunate. At the end of the day, nobody is equal until we’re all equal.
What short-term plans or long-term goals do you have in store for K.T. Clothing?
At the minute, I’m taking every day as it comes. I just finished my Leaving Certificate and am hoping to go to college in September. I have always had a policy of never saying no. Every opportunity that comes my way, I take! It has led to some weird coincidences and tightness of time, but it is so important for me to keep raising awareness for people.
Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
That’s a good question! I think there are so many people changing the game where fashion is concerned, at the minute. Fashion is something that needs to be made inclusive across all boards, not just gender neutrality. Sinéad Burke is certainly raising serious awareness about that. I also love Gogo Graham’s work to make trans women feel more included in fashion. She deserves a lot more recognition for the amazing work that she is doing!
It is heartening to see young entrepreneurs like yourself pursuing your passion and striving for equality. Thanks for taking the time to share your insights with us!