Bull & Dagger Founder, Meera Amin, Talks to Reign, Brogue Arts Magazine

As explained in that cutting speech by Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, fashion is often a bastion of social innovation in terms of what is considered beautiful and acceptable. It is no wonder then that in the last few years, trans and gender non-conforming models have been breaking all the rules of fashion. Models such as Andreja Pejic, Erika Linder, Rain Dove, Elliot Sanders and even Jaden Smith who recently kicked up a storm by being the first male model to model a female collection for Louis Vuitton earlier this year, have taken over both male and female catwalks and shoots. This is also evident in many designers moving towards androgynous clothing rather than being bound be traditional gender lines.

To get a clearer idea about all this, I spoke to Meera Amin, founder of Bull & Dagger, the UK’s first genderqueer fashion label. They create clothing for individuals who are gender non-conforming; those who feel that their gender identity does not fit into socially constructed gender “norms”.

Define Bull and Dagger.

Bull & Dagger is the UK’s first genderqueer fashion label. We create clothing for individuals who are gender non-conforming; those who feel that their gender identity does not fit into socially constructed “norms”.

What inspired you to start B&D?

As someone who identifies as a queer woman, I have found it difficult to find the masculine clothing that I like to wear in the right size and fit for my body. I searched for a queer clothing brand that caters to the UK market and found that there were none, and so I decided to create one myself.

Where does the name B&D come from? What does it mean and what inspired it?

The name Bull & Dagger comes from the word “Bulldagger”- a 1920s derogatory term for ‘butch’ or masculine lesbians. Bull & Dagger has decided to reclaim the term - we salute those who refused to be defined by anyone but themselves, and looked damned good while doing it.

How would you describe your personal aesthetic in fashion?

I like to wear smart masculine clothing but with a touch of flamboyance – shirts, waistcoats, blazers, bow-ties, braces, pocket watches and pocket squares. I keep an ‘emergency’ bow-tie in my bag and in my desk drawer at work.

You don’t come from a fashion background, how are you navigating your way through a notoriously difficult industry to infiltrate? Have there been any unexpected challenges?

It’s been a steep learning-curve and I’ve sought advice from several fashion professionals throughout the process. For me, this is as much a queer business as it is a fashion business, if not more so, and so the help and advice from queer friends has also been very valuable.

Has being a queer woman of colour affected the way you he approached fashion, perhaps in relation to the emphasis on western body types in mainstream fashion?

In all honesty, I didn’t think that my Indian background had any impact on the clothes that I was making – until we started creating the samples - only then did I notice the subtle Indian influences in some of my designs.
It has been said by some in the lgbt community that when people discuss gender neutrality, particularly in regards to clothing, it leans more towards masculine clothing adapted to female bodies but didn’t necessarily offer much options for other forms of expression. How has B&D tackled this issue, or indeed, have you found it to be something that needed to be tackled at all?

This is an opinion that I have come across frequently, and based on what I’ve seen of other queer brands globally, I believe it may be true. We have created some pieces that are truly unisex and fit both male and female bodies equally well, and we have also created some feminine clothing for men and masculine clothing for women.

The pieces are quite vibrant and flamboyant, who do you envision as the target B&D customer!

We have had interest from a very wide range of individuals, and I think that our clothing is perfect for anyone who is interested in blurring gender boundaries and anyone who embraces fashion as a form of self-expression and an extension of self.

And finally, what does the future hold for B&D. What is the next step?

We are beginning production over the next couple of weeks and hope to fully launch in April.

More to come.
Meera Amin