Original Tomboy Blends Fashion & Personal Style


Published: 04/01/2013

by James F. Mills


When you say “men’s wear for women,” a target audience of lesbians immediately pops to mind. That’s exactly how the new fashion line Original Tomboy wants it.
    “Original Tomboy is a brand for women who don’t like to dress in traditional women’s wear,” explains lesbian designer Alicia Hardesty, the founder of Original Tomboy. “It’s a versatile brand. It offers a style, a fit that’s not standard in the industry. It merges men’s wear silhouettes with women’s wear. In it, we create something that’s right down the middle.”
    In designing the brand, Hardesty has incorporated bigger shoulders, more room in the chest and wider hips and waist. These are all things that grown-up tomboys might appreciate in their clothing, but many non-tomboys are falling in love with the line as well.
    “What’s been really cool about Original Tomboy is when you show this brand to people, just people—not considering lesbian, straight—they just really like it,” say Hardesty, who was indeed a tomboy growing up in Kentucky. “They relate to it. They like the story. A lot of women were tomboys growing up, and now they may dress one way to go to work but on the weekends or when they’re home, they would wear stuff like this. They’re not necessarily butch or tomboys or anything like that, and they relate to the brand.”
    Men are also relating to her American-made, heirloom-quality fashions too. She recently did a daylong pop-up store at Forbidden Lounge in Boystown (beside Koo Koo Roo) where the guys stopping by raved about her designs.
    Hardesty started planning her label several years ago while creating menswear for Black Hearts Brigade, a small L.A.-based label. Original Tomboy launched last year after a $5,000 Kickstarter campaign provided the money to produce samples.
    She started getting orders via her website quickly, but those samples also earned her a spot on Project Runway, the reality series where aspiring designers meet fashion challenges on a tight budget and quick turnaround time. She was on Season 10, which aired in fall 2012, and survived halfway—eight weeks—before being eliminated.
    “It was the best experience I could ask for, especially to get my career really started,” Hardesty says, noting that judge Michael Kors seemed to best understand what she was trying to do with her designs.
    One of her more amusing interactions came when host Tim Gunn critiqued one of her dress designs, saying it looked like Joan of Arc, that it looked like armor. “I thought, ‘What’s wrong with that?’” she says. “I took it as a compliment.”