Fashion Without Boundaries: Genderless Designs Take Reign
Fashion Without Boundaries: Genderless Designs Take Reign
By Paige McKirahan
Fashion is, in short, a form of creative expression; those participating in this expression should feel as if they have the freedom to wear what they want when they want, regardless of the restrictive gendered guidelines set by society. In a time that seems more accepting and open to new ideas than ever, discussions of gender fluidity are now front and center as debates of right and wrong flood the media. Though many aren’t choosing to embrace these societal changes, others see them as opportunities for self-discovery and evolution. Celebrities like Jaden Smith and Young Thug are prime examples as they flout gender norms with ease, wearing dresses and skirts simply because they prefer the style. In lieu of Fashion Week, we wanted to look at some designers that do not see gender as a barrier in style, aiming to create inclusive collections for all. With men and women’s styles now both walking down the runway in combined shows, the question of what is masculine and feminine is being posed. But, in reality, who gets to decide these distinctions? Do they even matter in the end?
Jaden Smith in skirts for various campaigns
(image credits to youtube.com)
Fashion has been crossing these lines for years and we have seen genders appropriating opposing styles since the ‘30s when menswear came into fashion for women during wartime years. But showing these both gender’s lines together truly allowed us to consider the distinct differences (or lack thereof) between the two. Materials and fabrics are the same, cuts are uncannily similar, and accessories are fluid. Many designers are also choosing to show these collections using androgynous models, further blurring the line between male and female.
Raf Simons puts this androgyny to great use as he was the first to have a combined men and women’s show for Calvin Klein. As Simons began as a designer of men’s fashions, he used that knowledge and incorporated previous stylistic choices into creating clothing for both genders with feminine edges. Men and women were both in suits with blazers, sheer tops exposing nipples, and varsity stripe motifs.
Raf Simons Calvin Klein Collection F/W 2017
(photo credit to elle.com)
Simons is one of the many designers using the runway to freely express the fact that men’s and women’s clothes can be interchangeable, but some designers are taking it to the next level and creating fully genderless designs. Offering a place in the industry for those who don’t find themselves confined by gender or simply do not want to abide by the norms, these labels have paved the way for this movement and have even prompted the Council of Fashion Designers of America to add a “unisex/non-binary” category to the NYFW calendar.
One of these labels in particular is blurring these lines in a big way; Becca McCharen- Tran and her swimwear brand Chromat are aiming to make shopping less alienating by not using exclusionary language in regards to gender, making everyone feel welcome. She knows that being in a swimsuit can make one feel vulnerable, and wants to be sure that her brand has plenty of options for people from all walks of life, allowing them feel empowered in one of their pieces. The Phluid Project is also a game changer in retail space; Rob Smith recognizes that it is not a comfortable experience for those who want to shop in departments that don’t fit their appeared gender and began this project to combat that. He created the shop as a space for people who want to view fashion in a safe environment, exploring boundaries. He wants to eliminate gender expression and the concept that fashion or makeup should define your gender as he feels the practice is outdated.
An Instagram post from Chromat displaying gender neutral swimwear
(photo credit to highsnobiety.com)
This trend has also made its way into the jewelry market as many people are now buying gender neutral pieces; it is now about the question “what does wearing this piece say about me?” rather than “was this piece made for me?” As more men are opting to wear jewelry, they are commonly choosing pieces that are characteristically more ‘feminine’. This new engagement takes them away from the traditional watches and cufflinks, moving more towards rings and bracelets that express their personalities. As we proceed towards acceptance of all and true freedom of expression, restrictions in the jewelry industry are truly breaking down.
To conclude this discussion, I want to leave you with a quote from Gypsy Sport Founder, Rio Uribe, as you consider this move towards unification: “All clothes are gender neutral. It’s really about who’s wearing the garments and how they gender themselves. I love when a piece can be worn by anyone, whether they are cis, trans, male-, female-, or non-binary-presenting. Personally, I think that if kids weren’t told that blue jeans are for boys and pink dresses are for girls, then we would all be dressed as our true selves. So I design for people who think like me, who are themselves regardless of society’s expectations and regardless of what section of a clothing store they like to shop in.” Here at Talkingfashion, we believe that style is genderless and seeing these ideas being reflected on runways brings us great excitement. Always remember-- wear what you love, everyday!
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