The Daily Iowan

Shaw: It’s time for a gender-inclusive Downtown Iowa City

The clothing options offered to students and community members downtown Iowa City strongly lacks an accessibility to men’s clothing and non-binary or non-gender conforming clothing.

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Shaw: It’s time for a gender-inclusive Downtown Iowa City

The Jefferson Building on Washington Street is seen during Jazz Fest on Sunday, July 2.

The Jefferson Building on Washington Street is seen during Jazz Fest on Sunday, July 2.

Ben Allan Smith

The Jefferson Building on Washington Street is seen during Jazz Fest on Sunday, July 2.

Ben Allan Smith

Ben Allan Smith

The Jefferson Building on Washington Street is seen during Jazz Fest on Sunday, July 2.

Nichole Shaw, Opinions Columnist

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 Casual shopping downtown is highly accessible for college women, despite the higher prices some of the many boutiques have. However, for those who express themselves as men, or fall somewhere else along the gender-identity spectrum, clothing options are severely limited. It can be assumed by shop owners and managers downtown that women will spend more on clothes, and that’s why there are few gender-inclusive stores.

That’s no excuse.

Iowa City is the college town that caters to University of Iowa students, who champion diversity and inclusion. Thus, the ways in which those students express themselves should be made readily available to them in larger numbers instead of catering to just women.

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“As far as campus is concerned, guys will have to go all the way to Coralville or the mall in order to find casual basic clothing,” Ragstock general manager Kevin Reinhard said. “It’s imperative for us that we have a department side catered to men’s, so we have a little bit of a higher volume than other places downtown. We’re trying to close that gap of gender inequality downtown on a college campus.”

Downtown should have more clothing options for men, as well as nonbinary gender shoppers. The stores tend to exclude large groups of people with and focus on feminine clothing. While women tend to spend more, the options should still be made available to everyone on the gender spectrum to enable their expressionism.”

What Reinhard and Ragstock as a company have done to become more inclusive is blend their men’s and women’s products together. Reinhard said a lot of their recycled products, such as oversize jean jackets and bib/bib shorts, have become gender-neutral items that they don’t separate into different departments in the store. It is in those recycled categories that Reinhard creates outfit ideas for both men and women, sometimes matching men’s and women’s products with each other in the display to encourage gender neutrality.

“Even just in IC and Coralville community, there’s just not that many companies that are involved with pride and the LGBTQ community,” Reinhard said. “We respect that community because we are a part of that community … and I think that is one of the reason why we get such a great response from them.”

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As the highest-ranking institution in Iowa for campus pride and LGBTQ friendliness, stores downtown should cater to the members of the community, not only to those who pay the most. As a community with 47 percent of students identifying as male, according to data from the UI registrar, there should be an accessibility to more inclusive clothing downtown that includes men’s, women’s and nongender conforming.

Ewers is one of the few, if not only, men’s clothing store downtown. It does personal tailoring with orders that can be filled in a day’s time and offers an assortment of sizes, including big and tall.

“We can fit lots of varied people,” Ewers co-owner Bob Noser said. “Women’s are a lot of the times smaller and boutique size downtown, while men want to come in and get things done in one-stop.”

When asked about other groups Ewers caters to, Noser said women or nonbinary identifying individuals are always welcome. They can come in and buy shirts, but Ewers has a limited selection for in-store try-ons. Nonetheless, Ewers is a place where men can actually get what they need in one-stop in an area in which their options are severely limited, unless they go out to Coralville.

Downtown should have more clothing options for men, as well as nonbinary gender shoppers. The stores tend to exclude large groups of people with and focus on feminine clothing. While women tend to spend more, the options should still be made available to everyone on the gender spectrum to enable their expressionism.

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About the Writer
Nichole Shaw, Opinion Columnist

Email: [email protected]

Nichole Shaw is an opinion columnist at The Daily Iowan, writing about culture and systemic oppression of different populations....

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