Are you a tiny-footed butch lesbian, queer, or masculine of center person? You’re going to love NiK Kacy, the genderqueer mastermind of a new unique and luxurious footwear company that is officially launching to offer small fit styles to queer and MOC population. Gone are the days of being disappointed by salesman who tell you their men’s footwear only goes down to a certain size. Gone are the days where you decide to double up your socks in order to rock your favorite looks. NiK has even created a mold that fits narrow feet while maintaining a masculine shell.
AfterEllen had a chance to speak to NiK towards the end of his successful Kickstarter campaign. Let’s chat with the owner and creator.
AfterEllen.com: NiK! You’ve exceeded your goal. How do you feel?
NiK Kacy: To be honest, I feel like its a little bit surreal—like I’m just dreaming. But then I’m like, OMG—this is really happening! I’m actually going to into production and making shoes for all these people and I’ll be able to donate shoes to the LGBT Youth Center and that gets me super excited and my eyes light up and I get teary-eyed and then I call my mom [laughs].
AE: Getting shoes to kids who need them and shoes that match their gender identity—so cool and speaks to the heart of what you’re doing. I know you’ve probably talked about this until you’re blue in the face. But for our readers who are just finding out, tell me a little bit about how the idea for these shoes came into play.
NK: Being masculine of center and gender fluid, I’ve always felt the desire to wear men’s clothes and shoes and express myself in men’s fashion. However, I spent most of my life never being able to find shoes that fit my female-born feet. So I always told myself one day, if no one else starts making shoes for me, then I’m just going to have to go out there and do it myself. As I matured into an adult, I realized that there were many people like me who did not necessarily identify with the bodies they were born with and my perspective began evolving into the idea that everyone should be able to express themselves in a style that is authentic to how they feel, and not be limited by their gender or identity. It really is time for our society to let go of this archaic view of gender being limited to a binary between men and women.
AE: Which leads me to my next question: Why do you think the queer community has responded so well to this campaign?
NK: Well, I hope its because sharing my journey speaks to them. I wanted to share in a genuine and transparent way. Doing that invited everyone to literally walk with me—pun intended—because it’s a long journey to be authentically yourself. I hope these shoes help LGBTQ individuals out there feel more comfortable as well.
AE: How has your idea of what you thought you set out to do changed throughout your Kickstarter? Or has it?
NK: It hasn’t really changed too much. I set out to develop a company that provides well-designed and high quality shoes for all identities. I started with a masculine of center line because that is what I love and what I know and I felt from personal experience that the community of people who wanted these types of shoes was quite large and traditionally underrepresented. My next goal is to develop the feminine of center line, high heels, in the same sizes so that everyone who identifies feminine of center, whether it be all the time or just some of the times, can wear sexy but comfortable heels. Of course that will take a little more time to develop because high heels are NO JOKE! What has changed in short is that I started with shoes but now I think I’ll be doing more accessories as well. I didn’t plan on carrying other products but the leather cuff bracelets were so popular and honestly, I love them so much that I think I want to keep making more designs to complement each season’s shoes. I also plan on making holster wallets and belts, basically anything accessory that complements my shoes and helps promote the message of gender neutrality and equality.
AE: Who are the influences you have in fashion that have influenced how you approach your shoes?
NK: My biggest influence has been Sharpe Suiting mostly because of my long friendship with its founder, Leon Wu. I’ve watched him throughout his journey and am always inspired by his dedication to his dream and I think it helped inspire me to take the leap as well when it came my time. He’s been super supportive throughout my own journey and we plan on continuing that brotherhood for a very long time. And that’s really the beauty of our community—it’s our ability to help lift each other and support one another. As LGBTQ individuals, when one of us succeed and make an impact in our society, it helps lift all of us so we really should be more supportive of one another.
As for my approach to my shoes, I’d say the biggest influence is my OCD. I’m so detailed and a real perfectionist in everything I do so my approach is first to make shoes from the perspective of the consumer, focusing on comfort, style, and then design.
AE: What are the next steps? How will people who didn’t pre-order shoes be able to get ahold of a pair?
NK: I will be updating my website to include an e-commerce feature so that people can continue to contribute and order shoes. This way, by the time I go into production—most likely in May/June—I’ll be able to make everything together and aim for a September delivery.
AE: Anything else we should know in terms of how else we can continue to make your brand a household name?
NK: I guess the most important thing everyone can do to support is by spreading the word, but also to passionately believe in the reality of having a world free of limitations based on gender. Spreading the love and message of acceptance and freedom to be authentic versions of ourselves—I think that is really what this is all about. For me, shopping had never been a fun experience since I was a kid because I could never find anything that fit my body and my identity at the same time. It wasn’t until I had top surgery that I finally was able to feel comfortable in my clothes. Times have changed and now there are increasingly more spaces and avenues for people who are gender fluid to shop and find clothes that fit their style. Shoes are something that is still a bit behind so I’m hoping I can help pave the way, so please walk with me.
Find out more about NiK Kacy, his shoes and brand on his website: www.nikkacy.com