Nowadays, modern society wants more and more to be liberated from gender inequalities and labels, and within the last decade, there has been a major win for the LGBTQ+ community in terms of visibility in the fashion industry. Designers worldwide have started creating gender-neutral pieces for everyone, including androgynous pieces for masculine-identified women and beyond.
“Sex is biological. Gender is cultural.”Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex, Pulitzer Prize winner in 2002
Innovative fashion brands such as Comme des Garcons and Rick Owens have embraced gender-neutral clothes and the highest reputable names of the fashion industry such as Alessandro Michele of Gucci, Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, and Olivier Rousteing of Balmain are now presenting collections that are simultaneously his and hers. And they are not the only one, brands with more accessible prices such as Zara, H&M, and ASOS, designers are now creating clothes that are gender-neutral, rather than being limited to menswear or womenswear. These clothes cater to everyone and do not restrict people based on sex.
The most prevalent consumers of gender-neutral clothing are the Gen Z generation, who are advocates of a belief that gender is an outdated construct. As a result, the fashion industry is answering to their advocacy. In January 2013, Canadian designer Rad Hourani became the first-ever designer to present a unisex couture collection. In 2017, Telfar Clemens – the Liberian-American designer behind unisex brand Telfar – won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, New York’s big prize for up-and-coming talent. Zara started selling gender-neutral clothing in 2016 with models of both sexes styled in the same outfits, a year later in 2017, H&M released a line of unisex denim simply called Uni. Moda Operandi introduced its first gender-neutral streetwear collection in 2018.
If we are to look at who and what is creating this change in the fashion industry and not only, the culture promoted through streetwear is clearly trying to make people break the social norms. Rather than making one ashamed of their fashion style, the culture allows people to share their own and unique styles with confidence. On social media, there are many fashion leaders who are leading the movement towards dismissing gender binary clothes. For example, Jaden Smith became a model for his generation by promoting streetwear and the freedom of wearing whatever you like by modeling for Louis Vuitton’s womenswear collection, posting numerous pictures in non-binary clothes on Instagram, and taking these outfits to the red carpet. Streetwear is a counterculture that opposes societal norms and allows people to express themselves without conforming to gender roles.
The issue of gender norms in fashion is an important issue that needs to be addressed in the fashion industry and throughout society as a whole. When it comes to fashion, there should be no limitations of gender, identity, or style and there should be a complete acceptance of what one person wants to wear. Generation Z and their beliefs are forcing the fashion industry to change their values and ideologies regarding gender norms. The fact that more and more fashion brands and retailers are embracing this gender-free society, is a positive change and makes us believe that gender-neutral clothing really is the future of fashion and people are ready for it.