“You know what we could do? We could make a design out of the back page ads. That might be fun.”
Kelly Sue is always creating. We’d just spent a fun night talking about Bitch Planet and pitching ideas back and forth about future designs. The idea hit her as I was petting her dogs on my way out. I agreed wholeheartedly, trapped between the excitement of the idea and her adorable dogs. I thought about it on the drive back and throughout the night, until I fell asleep in my little rental airbnb bed in someone’s converted back porch. A few months later my niece would text me a picture of the back page ads from the copy of Bitch Planet she was reading.
“Aren’t these cool?”
It reinvigorated my craving to make the design.
“How does Bombsheller choose designs?”
It starts with “You know what we could do?” which turns into, “Would I wear that? Would YOU wear that?” and grows from there. Printing on demand allows us to do a lot that larger clothing manufacturers can’t do. One of those things is that we can cater to a fanbase of one, another is that – when the stars align – we can create, present, print and ship a design within 24 hours. Sometimes sooner. This is what we call a “TechFlex” and if you’ve been to one of our live signings, you’ve seen them at their best.
Bitch Planet is intense. It’s also gorgeous, poetic, unapologetic, inclusive, and radical. Hell, Facebook wont let us run any boosted ads that involve their designs due to the mere title of the book. #HeyKidsPatriarchy would be even more in your face; the ads that make up the design range from funny to horrifying. They’ll have you laughing, but also slap you with some cold facts about domestic violence.
Cold facts don’t historically sell clothing. We had to decide if we wanted to lean into the essence of the design, or try to make it more palatable to a larger audience. It’s a delicate balancing act when you take on a license. As a company we need to stay true to our brand, but we also want to showcase what we love about our collaborations. Ultimately we decided we loved Bitch Planet too much not to do it justice, so we leaned in, Non-Compliant as ever.
Having fun isn’t hard, when you have a library card!
Compared to our last Bitch Planet photo shoot, this was a much smaller team. Our sole model would be the amazing Camille Primous, a Primary Therapist who moonlights as a Salsa instructor. On makeup was one of our favorite makeup artists, Sheila, who modeled #Morrigan in our WicDiv shoot! We had our amazing photographer, Stephen, on camera, and myself as creative director. In post, we had Emily and Ivy working on copy and graphics to recreate some of the ads in the lookbook. Since launch, fans have asked us for high-res versions so they could print them at home. <3 One of my favorite easter eggs is that the ad for Democracy actually links to vote.org!
The set was minimal to give focus to the busier design and the piles of books that would act as costar. Camille, Stephen and myself brought books from our personal collections. Looking back, it’s fun to match the book to the person. We included some books from our artists such as Big Gal Yoga and The Little Book of Big Babes by Rachelle Abellar. We weighed every detail; do we keep the used stickers on the book bindings, or does that distract from the image? We decided it added to it, because recycling and reusing is a key element in what we do. We included a necklace gifted to us by a fan who works at Babeland (18+ warning: you can find the necklace here). The black sparkly top is a lucky thrifted find, and the amazing holographic shoes are from our friends at Wildfang. Even the sledgehammer is from our first Bitch Planet shoot, a nod to the original design that got us here. The Devil is in the details.
The team put the lookbook together in a week. After receiving approval from the Milkfed team, we launched it on December 5th. The night of the 4th, my pure excitement took a hard left into nerves. Shit. Maybe we had leaned in too deep? Maybe we would alienate fans that hadn’t read Bitch Planet? I took a deep breath, and reminded myself that the Bombsheller team loved it. The Milkfed Team loved it. Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine DeLandro loved it. Again, the great thing about our business model is that we can cater to a fanbase of one. If someone really liked the design, chances are they would like how we chose to show it. I trusted our team.
Luckily, our fanbase gets us, and loved the lookbook! We’ve been getting tagged in photos of happily non-compliant fans on IG since launch. Every time it’s a like a warm hug – a reminder to keep going. When you order a pair of Shells, you will it into existence. We get to make them and Kelly Sue, Valentine and Laurenn McCubbin get to design them, but because we print on demand they would not exist without your order. You are just as important in the creation process as we are.
Thank you for the continued support, and for allowing us to make a look book that includes comic books AND Bell Hooks.
See y’all next year! Stay Badass.