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Manchester siblings create gender-neutral streetwear brand

New brand Kontroversial is inspired by the 1990s and has an eye on sustainability

A pair of siblings based in Manchester has created an inclusive fashion brand designed to “disrupt a generation”. 

Kontroversial draws inspiration from the 1990s, hip hop and Manchester’s street art. With a focus on the environment, the Kontroversial collection is sourced from Manchester and produced in small-run, high-quality batches using sustainable methods where possible.

It is entirely gender-neutral and aims to offer total inclusivity for all fashion lovers – promoting people to wear what they want, irrespective of gender or how they identify. With over 64 terms that can be used to describe gender, the Kontroversial clothing collection fills a gap in an ever-growing market for unisex garments that appeal to all sexes. 

The brand was founded by sister and brother, Kate Friar, 26, and Chris Friar, 30, after Kate had a vision of a society where clothing is less gender-specific and more inclusive. 

“I had a really powerful vision for Kontroversial,” says Kate. 

“A vision that sees the distinction in society for who wears what becomes blurred, so everyone can wear and be who they want. 

“Our garments are designed in the streets, for the streets.” 

“The pieces are inspired by a collaboration of hip-hop, 90s fashion and street art which, in turn, is inspired by living differently and wearing pieces that require no justification. 

“No one should ever make anyone else define who they are, who they should be, or let society tell them to wear. 

“We say that people should shout about who they are and be bold; we want our customers to feel empowered through our clothing. 

“If I can design and create clothing that inspires people to be unapologetically authentic and comfortable within themselves, then I have achieved what I set out to do. 

It was hugely important for Kontroversial to make all of the pieces and lines 100% gender-neutral, appealing to men, women, the trans community and non-binary audiences.

“For us, to show a male and female wearing the same clothes but worn totally differently shows people the variety of possibilities with the same product, while inspiring people to think outside the box of the gender norms and the stereotypes that are associated with them,” says Kate. 

“It also means that the lines are the same price to everyone.” 

Kontroversial clothing has a keen eye on sustainability. The garments are all hand-crafted in Manchester in small-run batches to create limited edition, well-made pieces that are trend-led but wearable for a longer period due to their quality. 

“Sustainability is and should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” says Kate. 

“Seeing how our world is continually affected by human beings daily is heartbreaking, and that’s why we do things differently. 

“We only offer limited runs of all our products. Our sizes are inclusive, we use varying methods for design, and our packaging is made from recycled materials, with no plastic used within our postage methods at all. 

“Our dyed acid method is the most sustainable; this technique takes colour to add colour; therefore, water is not wasted in the same way as other printing techniques. 

“It also makes for some incredibly interesting, bold-designed garments which go down well with our customer base.” 

Chris comments: “I would love to see fast fashion decrease and people have more care and thought into what they’re buying – quality over quantity. 

“Slow fashion, sustainability and protecting our environment and our world should be a core focus for any fashion brand. 

“Everyone should consider slow fashion when they go shopping and be more conscious and aware of where they are spending their money. 

“We need to appreciate what we have here and now and not wish everything away so quickly or move onto the next thing so quickly. 

“COVID has definitely changed how people shop and think about their clothing choices. 

“Comfort is now far more important than ever before, and even though lockdown has lifted, everyone is keen to keep the comfort levels high. 

“Hoodies, joggers, and tees sales soared massively over the last 18 months.

Kate says: “Kontroversial evolved from the idea that individuals are unique but never defined. 

“Our goal is to challenge the issues connected with identity and stereotypes, empowering all ages, genre, and size. 

“We live in a world of rules, judgements, and expectations. But really, who made the rules?”

To find out more about Kontroversial, click below.

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