BEHIND THE SEAMS: Broke Bitch
"That's all fashion is truly about: Expressing who you are, how you feel." Words never rang so true. When meeting with the owners and creators of the emerging e-commerce and newly opened retail store, Broke Bitch, we knew that it was going to be special. We got a chance to sit down and talk to Anni Peng and Jordan Baylor about how they met, their fashion inspirations, and the concept behind their unisex, fashion forward store, Broke Bitch.
Labeling Men: Tell us about how you developed Broke Bitch.
Jordan Baylor: It started with the sweatshirt and Brandon, right? Pretty much?
Anni Peng: Yeah, it was actually before that. I like to dress up really unisex just in general. And then we were just talking, “Let’s just start a company.” So, we’re like, “What should be our niche?” And I was like, “Unisex sounds cool,” because it’s really popular around Europe and in like Asia, so in the U.S. it’s just starting. So, I was just like, “Let’s try to do that and let’s do a whole site with all unisex pieces, catering to both guys and women.” Then, we started trying this piece on [Jordan’s] brother. His brother is a model.
J.B: Yeah, it was a Lazy Oaf dress.
L.M: Oh, cool.
A.P: I was just like, yeah, pull him out. He looks really good in it and because it’s loose.
J.B: It fit him like a sweatshirt.
A.P: It was a loose fit but when he wears joggers it looks really good. It just confirmed this idea is good. So, that’s how we are, just starting buying stuff. When we approach the brands, we just see if they have pieces that fit our category and we’re just buying stuff [that’s] unisex looking.
J.B: Just working with international brands and seeing if they fit our aesthetic for unisex fit, you know, the pieces and the clothes make sure that they have a loose fit, kind of. They kind of look good on a woman, but kind of don’t fit a man uncomfortably.
A.P: The way our store is like, we try to fit them [men and women] both comfortably and it goes with your body type.
L.M: Yeah, for sure. That’s awesome. So, how did you guys meet?
J.B: Yeah, we met in San Diego, at a bar. Yeah, with some friends and from there we started dating and the idea of Broke Bitch just came from like, just like a really weird conversation.
A.P: We were talking about some really weird stuff.
J.B: Yeah, we were talking about really weird stuff and a really weird concept. I don’t know, we were doing fake scenarios and talk-ups. Then this scenario was this guy who was rejected by some chick at a bar, he’s like, “You broke bitch.”
A.P: “You’re such a broke bitch, you shop from Forever21. You broke bitch.” And he got rejected.
J.B: He’s like really butt hurt, so he’s like, “You’re nothing but a broke bitch. I didn’t really want you. I was just bored.”
L.M: That’s awesome.
J.B: From there we were all just like, “We should name the company Broke Bitch.” Honestly, I’ve been know to spend my last [penny] on clothes. Broke Bitch is basically just anybody who can take an outfit and just make it work, you know. You don’t have all the money in the world, but you look like you have all the money in the world.
L.M: Yeah, it’s your style. It’s all about your personal style.
J.B: It’s all about your personal style and expressing yourself through fashion. Some people take it wrong and it’s a vulgar thing. But it’s not a vulgar thing, at all.
A.P: Also, why we’re called Broke Bitch [is because] a lot of pieces in our store are pretty expensive, to the average person, but the ideal way to giving out people is like, you buy a quality piece instead of buying a lot of quantity. You know, like lots of stuff from Forever21, I know I’m calling names, but they have a lot of cheap material and you wear it like twice and you throw it away.
J.B: It’s like really fast fashion.
A.P: Yeah, really fast fashion. So, like, even though we’re expensive, but if you just buy like one piece or two pieces, it lasts long and also, the style is probably not going to go out for like, at least, two or three seasons, you know?
J.B: Yeah, that’s one thing we really focus on. We don’t really try to get into, like, fads. So, more like the trendy look. We have something that’s just kind of, like, the timeless feel and the pieces that we pick for the collection will last for like, 6 months. We’ll pick out from their Fall/Winter and then if you order from that you’re good for the next 6 months.
L.M: Yeah, that’s awesome.
J.B: We really thought about that, like, “How can we help out the consumer, while still giving them a great piece?” We sat down and did that.
L.M: I love that. So, aside from being unisex and more timeless, how would you describe your aesthetic? I know there’s a lot of black and white pieces.
J.B: Yeah, definitely. On the site we have the “Naughty” and the “Haughty” Collections.
A.P: Our ideal, like Naughty [collection] is a lot of colorful stuff, but we just never really got it. That’s kind of really my fault.
J.B: We’re still working on it. We’re still stocking up the “Naughty.” The “Naughty” is supposed to be the more playful, street wear and then the “Haughty” is supposed to be like the high-end fashion, like when you go out to a dinner party, or something you wear some of those pieces. The “Naughty” would be more like, for clubbing or you’re going out during the week wearing street wear. It’s two different sides to your personality but you can get pieces and mix and match and bring your own kind of personality. But our aesthetic is really just like people, like moods change every hour, every day. Sometimes you feel like jumping up on top of your couch and some times you feel like staying at home, watching Netflix. We have a piece for like both moods, you know.
A.P: We have cute stuff, like targeting towards Asians, but we got like dark, kind of like Rick Owens feel, like Daniel Patrick, and you can just layer off or for like gloomy, like New York. It just depends. That’s why we separate them from like, the “Naughty” and the “Haughty”.
L.M: Love that.
A.P: Instead of like, the woman and the man.
L.M: So, who would you guys consider your celebrity style icon?
A.P and J.B: Tilda Swinton.
L.M: Yeah? Oh, that’s perfect!
A.P: Yeah. She’s like a goddess.
J.B: Yeah, she’s so awesome. She’s one of my favorite actresses. I remember when I was watching Constantine, I was really young and she played Gabriel, the whole time I was like, “Is that a chick?” And then at the end I was like, “Oh, it was a woman!” But she, like, pulled it off. I believed she was Gabriel because she can play that unisex…
L.M: Very gender-bendy, androgenous.
J.B: She transforms for every role and you never know what she’s going to bring to the table, so it’s like, Tilda hands down.
L.M: Yeah, her style is always on point.
J.B: Always on point.
A.P: So good.
J.B: So cool.
A.P: getting hot and bothered over here!
J.B: She’s like a chameleon.
L.M: That’s perfect. So, what would be one of your go-to pieces from the store, to kind of build an outfit around?
J.B: Oh, for sure, to start off with maybe like a Daniel Patrick essential tee.
A.P: That goes with everything.
J.B: That goes with everything. You can literally layer it. It’s such a great layering piece. Someone could see you in the shirt 5 different days in a row, but if you layer it properly, they’ll never notice. So, definitely, that would be an essential piece that you have to throw in your wardrobe. What else? I don’t know. Some of the newer pieces.
A.P: Like, Whatever 21 is pretty cool. [click here to view brand]
J.B: Yeah, Whatever 21 is like really off-the-wall stuff. Like, you’re not going to see anybody in that walking down the street.
A.P: Their stuff goes with a lot of things. It looks like a basic long-sleeve but it’s not really. They have really cool designs and small pieces on the side and they go with leggings and also, they have loose fit, so you can go with leggings or pants or like with some jacket, you know?
L.M: Awesome. So, you guys are together. So how is that working together and being together?
A.P: It’s cool.
J.B: As entrepreneurs, it works. We kind of know each other and we don’t really have egos. We can separate work and dating, so work doesn’t really carry over into dating. So we can separate it and we don’t have to egos. We don’t really have egos in our relationship. I can just be like, “Hey, I’m not good at doing photographs, you like doing that. You do that. I’ll just send emails. I’ll make phone calls.” I like talking to people on the phone.
A.P: Yeah, we have different roles.
J.B: We just balance it.
L.M: That’s so important.
A.P: Yeah, it’s really good, because I’m not really good with writing emails and contacting people. I’m more focusing on creative stuff. We’re working on our next Lookbook and what models we’re going to choose, you know? He’s like, “Alright, I’ll talk to them.”
L.M: Oh, that’s perfect. Do you guys have any funny dating stories from like early on in the relationship?
A.P: [laughing] Yikes.
J.B: Uh… I guess, like, I don’t know. The first time we met? Our anniversary is this coming Saturday.
L.M: Oh, congrats!
J.B: We met at a bar and we were bar hopping and then we ended up at a diner at like 3 o’clock in the morning.
A.P: Oh, god.
J.B: And she was trying to play with my pancakes or something and I was….
L.M: Haha, that sounds dirty.
J.B: [Laughing] No!
A.P: I was just trying stabbing his pancake.
J.B: She was stabbing my pancake and I was like, “Yo, get your hand out of my pancake!”
A.P: I was like, “Wow, nobody’s ever talked to me like that before this guy.” Awesome.
J.B: I don’t play around with my food.
L.M: That’s funny. It’s so cute. So, our final question for you guys would be how would you label your own personal style? Not for the store, but just for you guys?
J.B: My personal style is like comfortable and still standing out while still wearing a normal piece. Like you have a sweatshirt and you can kind of have a really funky material on it, but if you look at it from far away, it just looks like a black sweatshirt ‘til you walk up on top of it. That’s kind of my style.
A.P: My style is either go all the way black or some weird shit, like fur. Everywhere.
L.M: Like some eccentric details.
A.P: Yeah, I really like either like all black and just go with really dark feelings, like high-end or like really funky, light, bright colors and weird lipsticks and stuff like that.
L.M: Love that.
J.B: Jeffrey Campbell
A.P: Jeffrey Campbell’s everywhere.
J.B: She’s obsessed with that.
L.M: I’m with you, too. That’s what these [shoes] are.
A.P: Yeah, I saw that.
L.M: I’ve been wearing them for year, just almost every day. Through the summer. I’m like, “I don’t care!”
A.P: No, I spotted that. Oh, actually, I have a funny story. I’m obsessed with Ikea, like love Ikea. Ikea breakfast, Ikea lunch, everything Ikea. So we always go there and we like, tweet Ikea saying, “Bae, I’m inside you.”
L.M: That’s super funny!
J.B: “I”m inside you, Bae!” Yeah, we’re super creepy with our twitter. If we got blocked by Ikea’s twitter, we wouldn’t be surprised because we tweet the creepiest shit to them. Like, honestly, “Can’t stay away from you, Bae.”
L.M: To Ikea...
J.B: It’s like, “Love you, Bae @ikeausa” People are like, “What?” Yeah, we use our twitter to like, harass Ikea.
A.P: We have a lot of weird shit going on on Twitter.
L.M: I can’t wait to follow you guys on Twitter.
A.P: Yeah! We have funny stuff and I’ll post like quirky posts and hashtag really weird shit like, sex, hot…
J.B: [Laughing] Yeah, super weird hashtags.
L.M: That’s awesome.
J.B: We just have fun with the company. Honestly. We’re just some college kids just having fun, marketing.
L.M: That’s how it should be.
J.B: It’s working well for us, so far. It’s been fun growing the company organically. We started in July and…
A.P: Like, really started in July.
J.B: We were just doing Lookbooks off like pieces that we, like in March and April and just kind of building subscribers off of that. Then we launched. We took the photos from the Lookbook and started approaching brands and that’s how we started. Instead of going to each brand and being, “Hey, we want to carry you,” and having nothing to show. We brought on some photos.
A.P: It was our vision.
J.B: Yeah, like, “This is our vision, let us carry you.”
L.M: That’s amazing.
J.B: Once we did that, brands were like, some of the most open brands, the big brands, “Oh, yeah. Let’s work with you guys.”
A.P: …‘Cause our idea, the reason we do unisex is like, bringing it to another social level. We want to break the social norm. The society tells you only women can wear women’s clothes and only men can work men’s clothes, but our idea is to break that thing and a woman can wear men’s clothes and just look cool and men can wear women’s clothes, that’s like reaching to the higher level.
J.B: That’s definitely going to change the norm of what people think. I just don’t think it’s right when someone, say like a guy wants to wear a woman’s blouse or something, changes the label and it’s like, he’s gay or she’s a lesbian, you know ‘cause she wants to wear a dude’s shirt. Maybe she just likes that goddamn shirt.
J.B: It’s nothing to do with her sexuality or his sexuality.
A.P: Exactly. A lot of women, like me, I love men’s wear. You know, like the baggy [clothes], oversized stuff. People think, “Oh, is she a lesbian?” No, I just love this stuff.
L.M: And that’s what it should be about, it shouldn’t be any kind of pigeonhole…
J.B: Yeah, it should all be about expressing yourself. That’s all that fashion is truly about: Expressing who you are, how you feel.
A.P: Yeah. Exactly.
J.B: That’s why you see the raver kids, who wear neon colors and they’re like screaming, bursting with colors, because they’re expressing who they are with their people. But, like, in real life I have to be this normal, tame person and it shouldn’t be that way. We should stop judging each other. That’s really what we’re about. It’s like, helping people express themselves.
L.M: Breaking barriers.
A.P: Breaking barriers.
J.B: That’s really us. That’s Broke Bitch.
Check out Broke Bitch at www.brokebitch.com
Interview by Mischa Teichgraeber
Photo by Eric Fulcher
This interview has been edited and condensed