How Is Gender-Neutral Clothing Shaping The Fashion Industry?*

*This is a collaborative post*

Oh how fashion has changed. The days of women-only skirts and men-only trouser suits are long behind us. In a society that now embraces gender fluidity, many brands are moving with the times and are removing gender labels from their clothing ranges, emphasising that people should be able to wear what they want! 
Fashion designers have been taking inspiration from the 'traditional' styles of the opposite sex for many years - from boyfriend-cut jeans to men’s skirts. 
Today with the help of Trilogy Stores, retailer of sophisticated brand Rebecca Taylor, I'm exploring this topic further.

Power suits and floral prints

Of course before brands and retailers announced that their clothing was becoming brand neutral, there were already some styles around that were taking inspiration from clothes traditionally made for the opposite sex. 
The power suit is just one fine example of this which as we know took it's inspiration from the traditional men's suit. I always loved the power suit which featured heavily in many eighties TV series. Knots Landing or Dynasty anyone? :) This type of suit was viewed as a way for women to feel more confident amongst members of the opposite sex in the workplace and boy did it work! Women were soon moving away from wearing dresses in the office and instead were opting for tailored trousers with a tapered leg which not only looked smart but also made them feel more powerful.
Floral patterns were at one time just associated with women bringing a feminine look to a day dress or blouse. These days in keeping with a forward thinking fashion industry, designers are sending their male models proudly out onto the catwalk wearing bright floral prints such as orchids, roses and tulips on their outerwear.
Take ‘boyfriend’ cut jeans as another example. Women love these types of jeans because they don't feel as uncomfortable or tight as skinny and slim fit do. The relaxed fit of this cut was actually inspired by the loose-fitting jeans that men were wearing. The denim industry has always been ahead of the rest when it comes to non-binary dressing and not only with jeans. Denim jackets are another stylish item of clothing for both women and men who want to look casually chic. 
Founder of unisex brand, Bethnals, and former Topshop denim expert, Jessica Gebhart says: “The design process is genderless - always about fabric and fit before his and/or hers.”
The rise in athleisure has also seen many females move away from wearing tight, silhouetted garments to t-shirts and track pants.

Celebrity endorsement

Gender equality, gender fluidity, gender rights, you'll have no doubt seen or heard about these topics over the last year or so. Various famous faces have backed campaigns and have chosen to embrace gender fluidity when expressing their own style. As with many trends, all it often takes is for a celebrity to endorse a particular style or product and then usually this will hit the mainstream not long after. There have indeed been many celebrities choosing to embrace gender-fluidity of late which is reflected in their choice of attire.
Jaden Smith for instance, son of Hollywood actor Will Smith, wore a skirt in Louis Vuitton’s spring/summer 2016 campaign. Jaden has also been known to snub the female/male divide amongst clothing by Instagramming the comment, ‘Went to Topshop to buy some girl clothes, I mean ‘clothes’.’ And why shouldn’t we all wear what we feel comfortable in?
Kanye West donned a double leather look at a benefit show in 2012. He wore a leather skirt and leather leggings combo - embracing what was once a look solely for females. And, how could we forget when fashion designer, Marc Jacobs, wore a sheer lace dress over a pair of boxers to the Met Gala?
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's daughter wore a suit to a red carpet event and famously cut her hair short after she’d said that she wanted to be a boy. Her parents fully supported this and proudly stood by her.

Brands making a stand

More and more people are speaking up about gender fluidity and are expressing an interest in ungendered clothes which has led to some brands abolishing gender labels.
Department store, John Lewis, has got rid of ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ labels on all of their children’s clothes. Fashion retailer, River Island, did the same to emphasise that children can wear what they like! It’s said that gender neutral clothing encourages children to express themselves fully, irrespective of their sex.
More recently, brands are displaying their male and female models wearing the same garment to encourage both sexes to buy into the style. H&M announced its unisex denim range in March 2017 and UK fashion retailer, Zara, has announced an ungendered range with loose-fit clothing and neutral colours.
Founder and designer of fashion label Sies Marjan, Sander Lak, says: “I don’t look at a pink and think, “That’s great for a woman” or see a navy and say, “This is meant for a man”. Colour is always where we start the collections, so we went about designing menswear in the same way that we would approach any collection.” He predicts that eventually, genderless shopping will be possible.
Some people are calling for more ‘brave’ designs and want to see male skirts in stores instead of mostly masculine garments for both sexes.

On the catwalk

The spring/summer 2018 menswear shows had men walking down the Paris runway wearing long, grey, pleated skirts which tells us that gender fluidity is clearly making its mark on the catwalk. Men have been pictured in high-fashion dresses from big names, perhaps paving the way for the future of gender neutral clothing. Vivienne Westwood had models in silk dresses, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy models wore puff-sleeved gowns, and floor-length skirts were donned by those that wore Edward Crutchley. Does this mean that male skirts could be the next thing on the high street?
Creative director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele, has also had women and men walking down the catwalk in the same garment on many an occasion which supports the idea that fashion shouldn’t be labelled male or female.
Will these fashion statements and opinions have an effect on the fashion industry? It would appear so! More and more people are now choosing to wear what they want, when they want and are doing so with confidence. People are finally beginning to explore without being restricted by their gender. We're all free to experiment as much as we want, it's up to you how far you want to take it. If you want to wear your boyfriend denim jeans whilst encouraging your male friends to wear short hemlines then go right ahead! 
An interesting point, most brands have abolished gender labelling in children’s wear so I'll be intrigued to see whether these kids will keep this gender-neutral approach to fashion as they grow into adults.

*Photos sourced from Pexels and Pixabay

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