Facts Behind Gender-Neutral Clothing: Is It The Future Of Clothing?
The terminology ‘gender-neutral’, applies to things suitable for, or common for, both the male and female genders. The gender-neutral clothing trend in fashion emerged when people started challenging the idea of gender as a way to express their individuality. The same flow came into their fashion choices.
The idea of gender-neutral clothing emerged around the 1980’s, but it was by the name of unisex or free-size clothing. The early adopters of this trend were designers like Katharine Hamnett, who came up with oversized t-shirt designs with political statements. In the 90’s later on, female rap artists and musicians started wearing men’s clothing, giving a further push to this trend.
John Lewis, a high-end department stores chain from the UK, has done away with “boys” and “girls” sections in their kids’ clothing range. Their kids wear collection includes floral dresses as well as jeans and shirts.
The Reality of Gender-Neutral Clothing:
Gender neutral clothing, in essence, sounds like a very romantic idea. But, the collections that qualify as gender neutral are male-biased if we look at it.
Mostly, these collections consist of loose-fitting and baggy hoodies, shirts, t-shirts, jeans, etc. and use neutral colors. In spirit, very limited brands tend to celebrate femininity through these collections.
While brands claim to progressive, pushing femininity is something they are still struggling with. To make their brands really inclusive, retailers need to include items from the complete gender spectrum. Although, much path needs to be covered still, working towards gender-neutral clothing is a step in the right direction.
River Island, Abercrombie & Fitch, Zara, ASOS, Gender Free World, Wildfang, H&M, etc.  are some brands that have forayed into gender neutral clothing.
Male celebrities like Jaden Smith, have gone beyond the binary to endorse gender neutral clothing. Jaden Smith was featured in a Louis Vuitton womenswear campaign wearing a skirt, at the age of 17.
Is Gender Neutral The Future Of Clothing?
In the past few years, gender-neutral fashion has gained a considerable momentum, with the lines between traditional male and female binaries are getting blurred. A shift in the cultural landscape can be evidently noticed and the same can be seen in the fashion choices of the consumers.
To truly celebrate neutrality across gender binaries, gender fluidity in fashion needs to be explored more, by touching the feminine side. Why can’t skirts and dresses feature in gender-neutral collections too?
While the industry does seem to be moving in the positive direction, brands need to ask their gender-neutral customers what they want rather than sticking to oversized menswear as gender neutral clothing.
The likes of 69US, Charles Jeffery, and Eckhuas Latta have shown a considerable propensity towards pushing gender neutrality through their collections. Others are also joining the movement. Big retailers with mass appeal like Zara and H&M have also jumped on the bandwagon.
The future of fashion lies truly in the hands of millennial consumers across the globe. They are the choice makers and influencers both. Androgyny and gender fluidity is becoming a norm rather than the exception with the millennials. Savvy brands are rethinking their strategies to connect with this sector, by doing away with gender stereotypes and norms in their offerings.
In a survey conducted by GLAAD, it was identified that 1 in 10 millennials actually see themselves as transgender or non-conforming to gender. They refuse to identify with the gender they were assigned at their birth.
Fig: GLAAD today unveiled its third annual Accelerating Acceptance report, a survey conducted on GLAAD’s behalf by Harris Poll, which shows that young people are significantly more likely to openly identify as LGBTQ than generations before them. The survey – fielded online November 2-4, 2016 among 2,037 U.S. adults ages 18 and older – also shows growing levels of young people who are more likely to identify outside of traditional binaries such as “gay/straight” and “man/woman.”
In a recent Fusion poll, it was found that around 50% of millennials firmly believe that gender is actually a spectrum, and people can belong outside these conventional categories.
With so much potential and demand for gender-neutral fashion from the millennial segment, it is truly the future of fashion and brands are identifying that now. The key here for brands will be identified with lifestyle choices and not with genders.
Author:- Mausmi Ambastha, COO at Threadsol. ThreadSol is a leading apparel tech company helping garment manufacturers reduce fabric expense and produce more garments.