This RVA-based apparel company's first priority is to strengthen the local LGBTQ community through supportive business practices and gender-affirming products.
Taylor Knighting | October 1, 2018
When Sam Moyer-Kardos started Double Denim Dude in 2015, their hopes were to create an expressive enamel pin line as a fun way to earn some extra cash. Only three years later, Double Denim Dude’s offerings have significantly expanded, helping this queer-focused small business provide a powerful sense of self-expression to Richmond.
Moyer-Kardos, who uses they/their pronouns, is an artist and visionary with a keen eye for tattoo-inspired designs that evoke queerness and offer a means of gender identification for members of the queer community who are on the trans/non-binary spectrum. Misidentification is something that cisgender people may never fully grasp. They are the gender they appear to be, and present themselves in the role they were assigned at birth. However, transgender and nonbinary people don’t always appear to fall into the standard gender binary and can therefore be referred to by pronouns that do not correlate with their identity.
This is a familiar situation for Moyer-Kardos, who sees it play out in their own life and the lives of others around them. “I have a lot of coworkers that identify as they/them or are transgender, and the managers don’t always understand the concept of gender and also easily forget,” they said. “There are some people who, when they slip up, they react so aggressively because they feel embarrassed for misidentifying someone.”
For trans and non-binary people, being to constantly reminded that they aren’t “passing” well enough reinforces the idea that everyone should follow a cisnormative binary, regardless of how uncomfortable that makes them. However, Double Denim Dude’s pronoun buttons work against the assumptions people make about other people’s gender.
Moyer-Kardos wanted to make a visual, physical identifier that could be worn by queer people exploring their identity. With this and other Double Denim Dude products, they hope to both work to support Richmond’s queer community and make productive, positive use of their own creativity and individuality. “As an artist, I like to think of myself as a maker first.” they said. “I really wanted to translate my ideas into something I could make by hand, and I always feel like something handmade is more appreciated.”
Initially, Double Denim Dude began as a medium for Sam’s art to be sold as prints and buttons; however, Moyer-Kardos is also motivated by Richmond’s lack of queer-owned businesses, and the disappointment they feel in the shallow, profit-fueled attempts at queer representation made by larger corporations like Target.
“The product is a little cheap and doesn’t really benefit the queer community the way a queer-owned business does,” said Moyer-Kardos. They hope to make Double Denim Dude a different sort of company, one that truly represents queer culture and brings a stronger sense of community to LGBTQ Richmond. “I want to be a queer shop; I want to be that platform where people can go to purchase queer apparel,” they said. “Locally in Richmond, there’s not a dedicated business focusing on that, so I feel like that is really important.”
They hope to further expand their offerings in the future, and incorporate other themes they want Double Denim Dude to touch on. “I’ve been wanting to do jerseys, because another focus of Double Denim Dude is the concept of teams and mascots, and creating this community that we can all be a part of,” Moyer-Kardos said. “Everyone can wear one and feel like they’re a part of an exclusively queer team.”
Even Moyer-Kardos gains strength and courage from Double Denim Dude’s product line. “I’m still exploring my [own] identity,” said Moyer-Kardos. “It can be exhausting to explain myself, so, personally, when people buy the pronoun buttons, it inspires me to be more comfortable and verbal about my identity.”
By providing merchandise specifically meant to create a feeling of inclusivity, Moyer-Kardos hopes to inspire their customers to find the confidence within themselves to further explore their identity through creative expression and personalization.
Check out Double Denim Dude’s merchandise at their website, doubledenimdude.com.