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Buy Weekly: The Flower is Female

Buy Weekly: The Flower is Female

May 09 2024

Back in 2015, our VP of Creative + Merchandising, Rachel Berks, remade "The Future is Female" t-shirt, based on a design from the 70s for Labyris Books, the first women’s bookstore in New York City. When she learned that the cannabis plant is most prized in its female form, she had a new idea…

In 2015, I was scrolling instagram and found myself captivated by a 1970s-era photograph of a woman wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “The Future is Female”. It was posted on Herstory’s instagram account, which was run by a friend, and celebrated herstorical imagery of lesbian, queer + GNC folks. I reposted this photo, and that the shirt had been created for the first women’s bookstore in NYC called Labyris Books. People loved this photo immediately - the slogan clearly resonated widely, and many commenters begged me to remake the tee.

Photo by Liza Cowan

Due to the overwhelming response to my post, I redesigned the shirt and offered them for sale through my store Otherwild. I made an initial run of 24 tees which sold out overnight, and thanks to a perfect storm of concurrent event — defunding Planned Parenthood, the relentless attack on a woman’s right to choose, and a woman running for president — a viral cultural phenomenon was born.

Since I had borrowed the slogan myself, I never considered trademarking it. Before I launched the tee, my internet research yielded literally nothing with or referencing “The Future is Female” on it. The original photo didn’t even surface because of its near total obscurity. Once I launched and found tremendous success with my own version of the t-shirt, the slogan became ubiquitous. During a pop-up during the fall of 2016, I sold two sweatshirts to Annie Clark aka St. Vincent for herself and her then girlfriend, Cara Delevigne. Shortly afterwards, both celebs were photographed wearing the sweatshirt, and The New York Times published an article titled, “A Feminist T-Shirt Resurfaces From the ‘70s” in which I was quoted saying:

“It’s thrilling to see people embrace something that came out of the ’70s lesbian separatist moment,” Ms. Berks said. “The shirt is about a reaction to a misogynist and patriarchal culture that affects a lot of people. People are recontextualizing it: trans women, men, moms who have sons.”

In the weeks after the article was published, a couple very non-feminist things occurred. First, a woman named Suzanne Sizer filed a trademark application for “The Future is Female” one week after the NY Times article came out. Second, Cara Delevigne posted an identical knockoff of my sweatshirt on her Instagram to her many millions of followers. Luckily, Otherwild had an army of feminist supporters who would not stand for a celebrity capitalizing off of a queer woman-owned small business, and my following and business skyrocketed after the scandal.

Since I released the tee, I’ve seen countless renditions worldwide in the forms of apparel, jewelry, baby items, book titles, magazine covers, political slogans, print and broadcast headlines, beer, phone cases, fundraisers, nail polish, protest signs, other endless merch, and so on and so forth. The words were uttered by Hillary Clinton post-election, there was an SNL skit about the shirt, and musician Kiran Gandhi wrote a song, called “The Future is Female” in which she calls out her ‘black, Otherwild Future is Female t-shirt’.

It’s a very strange and somewhat unsettling experience to have a hand in resurrecting what became such an important slogan in feminist herstory, and then to simultaneously lose control of the narrative of that slogan. Regardless, the shirt gave me the opportunity to grow my business and support artists and designers within my community, which had always been the most meaningful and significant purpose of Otherwild.

Almost ten years have passed since I first saw and remade the t-shirt, and when I learned that the cannabis plant is most prized in its female form, because that is when the psychotropic compounds are most potent, I had a new idea…

“The Flower is Female” T-shirt by Gotham, $38

“The Flower is Female” T-shirt by Gotham, $38

“Female cannabis is what consumers know as ‘cannabis’ in that we consume the female flower and the respective cannabinoids that the female flower produces..”

  • Ian Dyshe, Head Of Operations at MFNY

“In a literal sense, the cannabis flowers we know and love are female, as they tend to produce more trichomes rich in the active cannabinoids and terpenes.”

  • Miri Gregor, VP Cannabis at Gotham

As a celebration of this plant we love, on the first birthday of our female-founded company, we are thrilled to offer a limited edition drop of “The Flower is Female”.

Shop "The Flower is Female" limited edition t-shirt now at Gotham!