Image Credit: Stella Mccartney
The terms ‘unisex, ‘gender-neutral’ and ‘androgynous’ have become buzz words within the world of fashion. As the industry is changing into a more diverse and inclusive space, many brands are blurring the lines between what is categorized as womenswear and as menswear. Some brands, such as Gucci, are even erasing these terms from their vocabulary and only producing non-binary collections.
In a survey carried out in 2017, it is reported that 6.9% of British people identify as non-binary, a statistic which only seems to grow as people are becoming more accepting of diverse gender expressions. Some celebrity genderqueer people include Sam Smith, who identifies as non-binary and Miley Cyrus, who identifies as gender-fluid. Gender expression is reaching new limits and breaking all norms that previously pertained to a specific gender. And whilst gender-neutral or gender breaking clothing is not solely worn by those pertaining to the genderqueer community, it is important to acknowledge their impact on the industry but also modern society in general.
Although it has become quite accepted for women to wear men’s clothing – think Kim Kardashian or Kate Moss in Dior Mens – the same cannot be said about men wearing womenswear. In 2016, Louis Vuitton cast Jaden Smith for their womenswear campaign. The rapper was seen in a skirt which left many feeling enraged. This is similar to Young Thug posing in an Alessandro Trincone skirt and Harry Styles posing for the cover of Vogue in a Gucci dress only months ago. A bitter reaction came from the more conservative general public, including author Candace Owens stating to “bring back manly men.” However, with Styles breaking gender norms on the cover of the most famous magazine, many stood up for him and the queer community who dress gender-fluid on a daily basis. 2020 brought an unprecedented amount of support and awareness to androgynous fashion, which will certainly carry over into this year.
Embracing a gender-neutral wardrobe has become more popular within the fashion industry. For example, Galliano for Maison Margiela’s SS19 collection said “What is masculinity and femininity today? I hope this is a journey to help us discover a new sensuality, a new sexuality, breaking down preconceived ideas of what’s masculine and what’s feminine.” He later sold his collection as ‘unisex.’
Stella McCartney’s “Shared” collection and Levi’s “Unlabeled” collection were also promoting unisex fashion. This also comes from an increased awareness from customers shopping outside of their gender-specific section for a wider range of suitable clothing.
Whilst the notion of genderless fashion is becoming somewhat mainstream, it is important to remember those embracing fluidity before it became ‘trendy.’ This includes Prince, Denis Rodman, Rick James and many more. The idea of dressing as you want, free from any gender restrictions, is not a new concept. However, it has been developed and put into the spotlight in recent years.
From the first gender-neutral Barbie Doll to the household name brands sharing gender-neutral collections, the past year has brought us great awareness to this previously taboo subject. Does this mean 2021 will be the year where gender-fluidity and its fashion finally becomes fully embraced? Realistically, no. There is still a lot of work to be done for this to happen. Just as Levi’s did for their “Unlabeled” collection, it is fundamental that brands listen to their customers wants and needs. However, gender-breaking moments are bound to happen this year, perhaps more than any other year, as fashion brands are becoming more aware of the possibilities that come with gender-neutral clothing.
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