Imagine if our favourite fictional tomboys “George aka Georgina Kirrin” from The Famous Five series and “Scout Finch” from To Kill A Mockingbird come together to form their own fashion line and create well-made clothing that fit their personalities and lifestyles. How cool will that be? That is essentially tomboy clothing brand Kirrin Finch in a nutshell.
Growing up with those books, we want to be as badass as George and Scout. We want to explore new places, go on adventures, solve mysteries and stand up for justice. We love how they embrace their tomboy spirit and are not constrained by society’s views of how a woman should behave or dress. Fast forward to 2017 where George is all grown up and we can picture her going about her day with a sweet flannel shirt, worn casually over her comfortable jeans and vintage sneakers. The adult Scout is now a chic New Yorker who has traded up her scrappy overalls for a grey tweed jacket to go with her smart chinos, classic shirt, and polished brogues.
Say goodbye to ill-fitting shirts from the men’s section and super feminine womenswear that we can’t relate to. And hello to menswear-inspired apparel designed to fit a range of women bodies. As it turns out, we don’t have to compromise on our ideals or style as we grow into our adult selves and that’s exactly how Kirrin Finch comes into the picture.
Like their fictional counterparts, Kelly Sanders Moffat and Laura Moffat prefer functional clothing that are extensions of themselves and suit their active lifestyles Yet they had never thought of being fashion designers and did not start out looking like their current dapper selves either. (So there is hope for the rest of us after all!) In fact, during their younger days, they have more pressing concerns such as whether their outfits allowed them to do important stuff like ride bikes and climb trees.
But as they grew up, it became obvious that mainstream retailers are not catering to people who don’t fit the typical feminine norm. Finding something that fits them becomes the equivalent of climbing the fashion, Everest. They speak to countless women, transmen and genderqueer folks who feel exactly the same way as they do.
Kelly and Laura have always envied the fabrics, patterns, and details of men’s shirts, but couldn’t make them work for a women’s body. Tough luck if you are curvy or a plus size! Instead of wringing their arms, the dynamic duo made the daring step of quitting their day jobs and starting an androgynous clothing line. No fashion background? That didn’t deter this entrepreneurial couple from launching their eco-conscious menswear-inspired button-ups and bow ties which are proudly made in New York City.
So jazz up your wardrobe essentials with the bold and bright patterns of Kirrin Finch’s button-up shirts, fitted with colourful cuff buttons, and contrasting accent fabrics. Or complete your bespoke suit with their stylish bow ties. If you haven’t had enough of their swag yet, watch out for their upcoming collection of chinos that are coming to you this spring.
At Tomboy Tarts, we are curious to know what makes Kirrin Finch tick. So we caught up with Kelly and Laura recently while they are taking a break from working on their highly anticipated Spring collection and giving back to the LGBTQ community. Was it love at first sight when they first meet? What is it like to swim with sharks? Which is cuter, cats in bow ties or dogs in bow ties? Find out more in our exclusive interview with this fashion power couple below!
TT: HOW DO YOU GUYS MEET? WAS IT LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?
Laura: We met online on a site called OK Cupid. It was pretty much love at first site. But both of us almost didn’t go on the date. It was a snowy cold night in New York and I told my co-workers I couldn’t be bothered going because Kelly’s profile said she was a librarian so I thought she would be boring. They told me I should go because you never know. I can say for sure, Kelly is definitely not boring. Right from when I saw her at the bar when I arrived she was upbeat and chatty and had a really warm smile. We hit it off right away, so much so that we had to make a point of stopping to talk so we could order food!
Kelly: In my defense…my profile name was “Not your average Librarian”. I thought that covered the fact that I wasn’t going to be boring, but clearly, it didn’t do the trick. Luckily Laura’s co-workers convinced her she should give me a try because as Laura said, we really did just click right from the beginning. We’ve been together now for over 6 years and I can’t imagine what my life would be without her in it.
TT: WHY DID YOU START KIRRIN FINCH?
We didn’t grow up wanting to be fashion designers. It is actually quite ironic because if you look at pictures of us when we were younger, we definitely wouldn’t be considered fashionable! We were both tomboys, and only really cared about making sure our outfits allowed us to ride bikes and climb trees.
Kelly wore a lot of oversized clothes, some sweet tie-dye shirts and even rocked a pair of jean overalls with cherries on them for the majority of middle school. Laura played A LOT of golf growing up, so you’d mainly find her in a polo or a golf sweater. Think 75-year-old man.
But as we grew up, it became obvious that mainstream retailers didn’t cater to us. It was always a hunt to find something that felt right, and we were often forced to make the choice between poorly-fitting menswear and super feminine womenswear. Not being able to find clothes that matched our inner core left us feeling like we were not able to fully be ourselves. And it wasn’t just us. We spoke to countless women, transmen and genderqueer folks who felt the same way. So we decided to quit our jobs (Laura was a pharmaceutical marketing consultant and Kelly was a teacher) and start a clothing company that aimed to fill the gap for gender-defying fashion by creating menswear-inspired clothing designed to fit a range of bodies.
We have always envied the fabrics, patterns, and details of men’s shirts, but couldn’t make them work for a women’s body. That’s why we launched our brand with a collection of menswear-inspired button-up shirts that utilise bold and bright patterns, colourful cuff buttons, and contrasting accent fabrics.
TT: WHAT ARE YOUR ROLES AT KIRRIN FINCH? DO YOU HAVE SIMILAR WORKING STYLES OR COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER LIKE YIN & YANG?
Laura focuses on marketing and finance, and Kelly works on all things operational like production, organising events and especially loves to organise our office.
Laura: I would much rather sit behind a computer and write and design. It takes a lot of energy for me to go out and talk to people. I can do it, but I am wiped out afterward. Kelly is the opposite. She loves people and it gets her pumped up! So needless to say she runs all our events, manages the factory relationships and does most of our PR. So we definitely complement each other.
TT: HOW DO YOU DEFINE TOMBOY STYLE? WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT BEING A TOMBOY?
Kelly: When I think of the clothing style of a tomboy, words like dapper and masculine style come to mind. It can be anything from a sweet flannel shirt and a comfortable pair of jeans to a snazzy three-piece suit.
But it really is so much more than just the clothing. In my eyes, people view a tomboy as someone who isn’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in and how they want to express themselves.
A tomboy is someone who is willing to take risks and go on adventures. It is the type of person who when they are traveling, they are all in. Sitting on the ground, eating the local food… really trying to experience life to its fullest.
When people describe someone as a tomboy, I really think it is a huge compliment, because sure there is an aesthetic that goes with it, but really they are saying, “Hey, I think you are badass!”
TT: WHAT ARE THE MUST-HAVES FOR ANY TOMBOY?
Kelly: Having clothes that allow you to explore and just “live-in” are absolute essentials to any tomboy’s wardrobe. I think of our Oakley shirt as a perfect example of my go to tomboy shirt. It is a red and navy button-down shirt that has a buffalo check pattern, which is obviously cool in itself, but the elbow patches on the sleeves are what bring it to the next level and give it something unique.
And my practical side says a backpack. You never know what you might need on the adventures you are going on!
Laura: Jeans, shirt, sweater, sneakers, and a sense of adventure and you are good to go.
TT: WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
Laura: I grew up in a small town in Scotland, and if you didn’t know, Scotland is the home of golf. So naturally, I played golf and was good enough to get a scholarship to UCLA. Like any good tomboy, I played golf with the boys every day and showed them up on a regular basis. I was constantly smashing windows in my house with golf balls and ripping up the carpet from swinging the club in the house. It drove my parents nuts!
TT: IF YOU COULD DRESS LIKE ANY STYLE ICON, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Kelly: My ideal outfit looks like I’ve come from the 1920’s. Like you might think of what a grandpa or hipster would wear today. Give me a bowler hat, a three-piece suit, a shiny pair of shoes, a tie and I’m in heaven. Although, definitely not the pinstripe gangster-style suits!
TT: IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR 18–YEAR-OLD SELF?
Laura: Um great question!!! If only we could do that. When I was 18 I kind of knew I was gay but didn’t really deal with it, so just pushed it to the side. As a result, I was quite unhappy. So I think I would tell myself, ‘Hey it is going to be alright. Being gay or queer is not a hard life. It actually gives you this great community of people, and your family will accept and love you no matter what, so don’t be afraid to be yourself.’
TT: IF YOU CAN ONLY WEAR ONE OUTFIT FOR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, WHAT WILL IT BE?
Laura: That is easy – button-up shirt, jeans, and sneakers. That is my go to. I wear it every day and plan to wear it every day for the rest of my life!
Kelly: Ditto. But I’d add my grey tweed blazer to the outfit.
TT: THE CRAZIEST THING THAT YOU HAVE EVER DONE
Laura: probably moving to Los Angeles to go to UCLA to play golf without even visiting the school or the coach! I couldn’t wait to leave Scotland because I thought I was this really independent teenager that would just waltz off to another country thousands of miles away and take it in my stride. I quickly realised within hours of being there that maybe I should have done some research and been a bit more patient. It all worked in the end, but every week I would tell my parents I was coming home and they would say “why don’t you just stay one more week” and eventually 5 years later I graduated!
TT: WHAT TURNS YOU ON?
Kelly: Practicality. Yeah, seriously! My brain really loves when things are practical and I find it totally sexy. Like MacGyver style. Sometimes my “practical side” drives Laura nuts because it wins out no matter what. For example, one of the first gifts I ever gave Laura was a rice cooker and a new cooking pot…for Valentine’s Day. I thought I was being really cute and observant. Laura thought I was weird.
Laura: So weird! I have to remind her not to buy me practical gifts for Christmas or my birthday! However, this Christmas she gave me a laundry hamper and suitcase. Clearly, she hasn’t got the message!
TT: WHY NEW YORK?
Kelly: I grew up across the water in New Jersey and I originally came to NYC as a teaching fellow. It is an organisation that trains people to teach in hard-to-staff schools around New York City. That was over ten years ago, and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else! I know that when people come to visit New York City they often go straight to the busiest places on Earth like Times Square. Sure the lights and all of the plays are cool, but I definitely couldn’t ever live in that neighborhood. We live in Brooklyn, where it is bit quieter and more localised, but still lots of great restaurants and bars.
Laura: I applied for graduate school to study neuroscience, and when I came for my interview and visit, I fell in love with New York. It had such great energy and the people were so open minded and accepted of anything. I literally didn’t care about the school or the professors, I just knew I had to get accepted so I could move to New York. And thankfully I did! I have now been living here 14 years, and I am never moving anywhere else.
TT: JEANS OR CHINOS?
Kelly: I love wearing a pair of Chinos, especially when they have a little something unique about them. And if you dig chinos too… stay tuned for the spring because Kirrin Finch is releasing a line of Chinos!
Laura: It is currently jeans, but it is mostly because I like that they have stretch in them and my tummy fits nicely inside. I can’t find chinos that I feel comfortable in. HOWEVER….I just tried on our new chinos for the first time today, and my answer might be chinos moving forward because they are so comfy and my hands fit all the way inside the pockets! No joke.
TT: WINE OR BEER?
Laura: definitely wine!! When I have that first glass of wine, it just relaxes me and gives me such a nice warm feeling. I love drinking wine and having dinner with friends.
Kelly: ABSOLUTELY beer! I love trying all different types of beer from around the world.
TT: SKYDIVING OR SWIMMING WITH SHARKS?
Laura: the idea of jumping out a plane scares the shit out of me. I have actually already swum and dived with many sharks, and they are actually not that scary. I mean I wouldn’t want to come across a great white or jaws in the water, but sharks are really beautiful creatures and I think somewhat misunderstood because of the film Jaws. Kelly and I both love diving and unfortunately, due to shark fining and overfishing, shark sightings underwater are getting rarer.
TT: SUPERGIRL OR WONDER WOMAN?
Definitely, wonder woman solely based on her outfit! I mean that woman knows how to pull off a hot outfit.
TT: WHICH IS CUTER, CAT IN BOW TIES OR DOGS IN BOW TIES?
Laura: we probably disagree on this one, I am a cat person and Kelly is a dog person, which matches with our introvert vs extrovert personalities. My first love in life was a cat – I married my cat in front of my friends in my bedroom when I was about 12 – and I want to be a cat when I die, so definitely cats. In fact, I can send many pictures with our cats in bow ties! Soooo cute!https://www.facebook.com/kirrinfinch
TT: KRISTEN STEWART OR EVAN RACHEL WOOD?
Laura: we are both obsessed with Westworld right now, so definitely Evan Rachel Wood. What is going to happen to Dolores in season 2?