Two of the biggest stories playing out in the headlines of late both involve Black women whose victimhood has been questioned at every turn. Megan Thee Stallion and Britney Griner, ensnared in very public legal battles, have been harshly criticized in the court of public opinion despite their civil liberties being blatantly infringed upon. Despite facing very different challenges, a through-line is clear: some people are unsympathetic to both women due to society’s pervasive cycle of misogynoir. The women’s tall, athletic builds have yielded insults about their femininity, with a large group of social media users calling them men, and often overlooking their pain.
This struggle exists in other spaces besides sports and entertainment. Fashion for example is plagued with subtle microaggressions, and Latoya Buckner is frankly sick of it. The 6’0 clothing designer launched her height-inclusive brand Nineth Closet after feeling disrespected and disregarded by major retailers that didn’t offer items even remotely in her size.
“For years, it was a constant struggle and I really felt like it was being done purposely,” she told ESSENCE. “After so many years, a large number of the brands out there would just throw anything together and stick a “tall” label on it, but the measurements were still all wrong and it really makes someone like me feel unseen.”
After years of research and working alongside expert seamstresses, Buckner launched the company in 2020 with a mission to provide fashion-forward clothing options that felt tailor-made for taller consumers (anyone at least 5’8 or taller). The company offers inseams as long as 40′ while the industry standard is 32.7′.
Although the concept of tall fashion isn’t new, her thoughtful approach is.
“Two of the biggest tall-clothing brands are Alloy and Long Tall Sally,” Buckner said. “Although I truly appreciate the road they’ve paved for designers like me, their branding caters to the more conservative, mature consumer which cuts off entire generations of potential customers. I want my youthful tall girls and others who want to express their femininity to be able to do that in style and comfort. There’s no gap in the back of our jeans and leather pants. Things like that, for instance, is something we take into account that other brands may not pay attention to.”
A part of Nineth Closet’s (whose name was derived from the number nine’s mark of completion) brand ethos is maintaining a deep investment in what the customer wants, and it’s evident by their cutting-edge looks that they’re answering the call. Since its launch, the company has raked in earnings in the 7-figures and poised for more growth heading into the new year. The brand has also become a fan favorite among WNBA and NBA players aiming to sport looks off the court that actually fit their frame.
“This just goes into what I was saying about being overlooked,” Buckner said, who is a former athlete herself. “When I played ball, I would have to get sweats that were an XL just for the length, when I really should’ve been able to use a medium. Just because we’re bigger and perceived to be stronger than other women doesn’t mean we aren’t deserving of attention, empathy and care. We’re literally just taller than the average person. So, I just want them to put some respect on our height and our name. That’s all.”