The Button Brigade
by: gillian wenhold, founder & ideas curator
“A shirt is a shirt and anyone is allowed to wear it” said Button Brigade Founder & CEO Katie Cooper.
Earlier this year, Cooper founded the Button Brigade with the goal of providing ethically made, gender-neutral and size-inclusive button-up shirts. And while a shirt may be just a shirt, these button-ups share a story with a message we could all stand to learn from.
Katie has always loved wearing button-ups, but was envious of the boys who had an infinitely larger selection with cooler colors and patterns. She explains, “Men's wear rarely comes in an XS and when they do they still don't fit right or they are made by a fast fashion company known for less than ethical standards. I quickly found out that I'm not the only one with this shopping problem and I decided to do something about it.”
Thus the Button Brigade was born from a personal need for shirts that anyone could look good in, and feel good buying. Following a successful Kickstarter in April, Cooper is in the midst of production of her first round of shirts.
“I love being in a place where I can listen to my customers and respond. Hear their needs and make something happen…the status quo of fashion needs to be challenged and I hope to do just that,” Cooper says.
Not only are these gender-neutral shirts size-inclusive and made in the USA, but 10% of the proceeds will also be donated to LGBTQ+ organizations. The first donation given will be to the Senior Services at OUTMemphis. OUTMemphis serves many members of the LGBTQ+ community in Memphis, and the main function of their Senior Services program is to provide weekly support calls for LGBTQ+ seniors living in the mid-south.
Having called Memphis home for the past 5 years, Cooper has been able to see this organization’s impact first-hand, and is excited to support their efforts. Being able to measure the impact of each organization is important for her, as she notes, “I don't want to be an idol brand. I want to actually make a difference.”
As such, future projects will be chosen through an application and vetting process, with donations ultimately given based on need.
As for now, Cooper looks forward to fulfilling the orders from her Kickstarter campaign and seeing the reactions of her newfound customers. To pre-order a shirt, stop by the The Hive Collective’s pop up shop on Main! It will be open all August for both retail and co-working.