Raiding their boyfriend’s wardrobe to find that comfy pullover or shorts is a common thing with many women but the reverse isn’t usually true. All that may change soon since the lines between men’s and women’s clothing is getting blurred and fast. Reputed fashion brands like H&M and Zara have already tapped into this market with their unisex denim (called Uni) and the now-defunct Ungendered line respectively but the road wasn’t a smooth sailing one. While Zara’s line included basics that you would usually find in the men’s department, it was lacking female-coded items such as skirts and dresses. For H&M, the problem was successful creation of gender-fluid clothing lines and mass producing them. As big fashion merchandisers encountered problems, independent designers found it to be the right chance to showcase their evolving designs that brought to the forefront the ever-changing notions of clothing with respect to self-representation, gender and sex.
What is gender fluid fashion?
According to Alessandro Michele- the creative director of Gucci, beauty is beauty – irrespective of gender. Many fashion experts believe the present generation doesn’t think much about whether a particular clothing is cut for a woman or a man, or if it’s a woman’s size or a man’s. For many, gender-specific clothing has become irrelevant today.
This trend has got its own supporters in some celebrities too. In their recent Vogue photo shoot, Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik told how they raid each other’s wardrobe and share clothes. In the past, David Beckham sported a sarong during the 1998 World Cup while he was out with Victoria Beckham. In 2011, Kanye West attended a concert wearing a leather Givenchy skirt, while the 2012 Met Gala found Marc Jacobs sporting a sheer lace dress. All these have given added steam to the rising popularity of gender-neutral fashion. Even some designers feel that designing clothes for just one gender is repetitive and boring, while gender-neutral fashion lets them experiment with a wide range of prints, textures, colors and fits in refreshing silhouettes.
Is this a new trend?
The way gender fluid fashion has caught the fancy of today’s generation is definitely a new thing but if you step back into the past, you will find that references to such fashion were found way back in the 1960s when Yves Saint Laurent – the renowned French designer, broke gender stereotypes for the first time by launching tuxedos for women. You can even consider the contribution The Beatles made to this cause by embracing gender-fluid fashion as early as in the 1970s.
What’s the future of this trend?
At the heart of today’s gender fluid fashion is the philosophy of wearing whatever one wants without worrying about cuts, fits, silhouettes or labels. So, it’s not unusual to find designers bringing out traditional men’s suit with skirts (high and low), oversized tees and distressed denims in clean patterns and minimalistic styles, or clothes in deconstructed shapes and relaxed silhouettes.
It’s not just independent designers and individuals who are preferring clothes that feel good and right to them. Even brands are now emphasizing on gender fluid collections as they can clearly identify the benefit of providing customers with neutral pieces that help them take their pick based on how they want themselves to be styled. So, you may find a lot of fuss-free shirts, V-neck tees, casual dresses and sleeved pullovers that adhere to three key philosophies namely to be comfortable, neutral and/or timeless, and a blank canvas.
By bringing various neutral/timeless components in their clothing that means something different to every individual, designers and brands are creating choices for everyone. Rather than sticking to a narrow-minded vision of what constitutes womenswear and menswear, brands and designers are breaking societal stereotypes and creating clothes that end up attracting both men and women. Another positive factor in favor of gender fluid fashion is that it has taken the concerns of the LGBT community into consideration and created designs that support their right to be accepted into the mainstream fashion.