Right-wingers launch attack on clothes store over Instagram post with a bearded TikToker in a dress

David Ross' colloboration with Son de Flor

Right-wingers have attacked a sustainable-fashion store over a single Instagram post showing a gender-fluid person with a beard wearing some of its dresses.

On Sunday (2 July), gender-fluid David Ross Lawn and clothing company Son de Flor posted a video captioned “How to style the Son de Flor classic dress”, showing the fashionista wearing several versions of its outfits.

It appeared on the brand’s Instagram feed of thousands of images which, apart from the video featuring David, are almost entirely of cisgender women.

The brand’s classic dress was inspired by one the founders saw their mother wear on many occasions.

But this one single Instagram post was enough to spark a “gender-critical” backlash – and even articles by a journalist.

A piece written by Bethany Mandel, in the US issue of The Spectator, with the headline “Is my favourite dress company the new Bud Light?”, attempted to liken the backlash over the Son de Flor post to Bud Light’s partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. 

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TikTok star Mulvaney found herself on the receiving end of abuse after she collaborated with the beer brand for a single sponsored Instagram post in April. Soon after, right-wingers threatened to boycott the beer and smashed bottles of it on supermarket shelves.

In the article published on Tuesday (4 July), Mandel criticises the company’s marketing department, stating that its target market of “women interested in timeless fashion and modesty” translates to religious conservative women. 

Mandel goes on to call David’s social media followers “woke”, concluding “there won’t be a rush of new gender-fluid customers beating down the digital doors of Son de Flor, eager to don a long-sleeved, button-up, linen dress with pockets”. 

Writing on Twitter, she said she had advice for the marketing departments of American companies. “Know and respect your customers… don’t crap on your customers.”

Under the Instagram video, right-wingers attacked the collaboration with many comments calling for a boycott. 

“Womanhood is not a costume,” one comment read. 

Another person, presumably trying to be witty, said: “How am I supposed to tell how this will fit my body if a man is modelling it?” 

Other comments included: “Way to oppress women yet again with men in women’s spaces,” and “Will never buy a single dress or skirt from you again. Stop erasing women.”

The torrent of nasty comments, however, has been balanced by words of support for Ross Lawn and Son de Flor. 

One comment read: “I had never heard of Son de Flor prior to this collab, but now I have an order of gorgeous linen towels on their way to me.” 

Other comments expressed disbelief over the amount of “dreadful comments”. 

One person wrote: “Honestly, the responses are hilarious, people saying the customer base is conservative traditional women wanting to dress modest… when a majority of the creators who model for Son de Flor are queer liberals. They don’t have a clue.”

David Ross Lawn models in a Son de Flor classic dress.
David Ross Lawn models in a Son de Flor classic dress. (David Ross Lawn)

David, who’s a TikTok creator, says after Bethany Mandel wrote about the collaboration, their comments and DMs were flooded with homophobic language.

“Bethany’s attack brought in a narrative that is both untrue and unwelcome,” they told PinkNews.

“At the time of her initial tweet she seemed happy to claim the brand had lost 1000 followers: but since then the brand has gained 3000: an immense amount of support, and the post has over 22,000 likes.”

They also spoke about how important it is for all fashion to be available to all people.

“I think it’s important that the world knows that personal style is personal: I don’t think it’s fair to attack anything about how someone else chooses to dress. there is space for all people to wear what makes them happy.”

“When Son de Flor posts someone like me on their page they are simply adding even more gender diversity to their profile, they are not excluding or taking away the multiple thousands of other posts sharing women wearing the brand.”

‘We’ve always been inclusive and so shall we remain’

A spokesperson for the brand told PinkNews: “First and most important, we’ve been making sure that David is doing OK in this situation. And it seems, he is. He’s been helpful in navigating this situation.

“Secondly, it was a good chance for us to truly understand who we are as a brand and what is most important to us. We’ve always been inclusive and so shall we remain, even if it means we lose a part of the following base or business. 

“Among some hate, we are happy to see a lot of support. We hope it will firstly impact David and other people who face so much cancel culture, to just be who they are and enjoy what they are doing and what makes them happy.”

On Wednesday (5 July), one of the brand’s co-owners posted an Instagram video addressing the backlash and reiterating that the brand is inclusive and will remain so.

During Pride month, numerous brands, including Target, fast-food chain Chik-fil-A, Primark and Walmart, faced boycott calls for showing even the slightest hint of support for the LGBTQ+ community.