We live in a world that is constantly evolving and growing, with fashion being perhaps one of the fastest evolving industries. This evolution seems to have been sped up significantly throughout the pandemic as many seem to focus on creativity during these unprecedented times.
One of the main changes to emerge during this time is the significant switch towards gender-neutral fashion. While the idea of genderless clothing has gained popularity in recent years, it seems to have become even more popular this year. This notable shift comes as society craves more inclusivity and not to be boxed in by classic gender norms.
What is gender-neutral fashion?
Gender-neutral fashion may appear to be new, but it has actually been around since the 1960s. Back then, it was known as “unisex” clothing, which emerged as women sought to wear more comfortable and practical clothing that was not so restricting. Women began to wear pants, a clothing item that was previously reserved for men only. However, this form of “gender-neutral” fashion was not necessarily the gender-neutral fashion that we see nowadays.
Back then, unisex clothing was just a different way of saying “masculine women’s clothes.” While this did allow for more freedom in women’s fashion, it did nothing to loosen the restrictions on men’s clothing. Additionally, there was no clothing that included people who identify as non-binary, genderqueer, or any other gender besides male or female. This is where today’s gender-neutral fashion differs, now we are beginning to see both masculine and feminine items that can be worn by anyone, no matter the gender. This allows for much more freedom to express personality through clothing without being restricted by classic ideas of gender.
How has the fashion industry embraced gender-neutral clothing?
In April 2020 the British Fashion council announced that London fashion week would be gender neutral for the next 12 months. This was huge news in the fashion world considering London is one of the fashion capitals of the world. When London Fashion Week talks the world listens. As London Fashion week continues to be gender-neutral into 2021, it is believed this innovative way to showcase fashion will set an example for the rest of the world to follow closely behind.
According to Caroline Rush CBE, BFC Chief Executive, “It is essential to look at the future and the opportunity to change, collaborate and innovate. Many of our businesses have always embraced London Fashion Week as a platform for not just fashion but for its influence on society, identity and culture. The current pandemic is leading us all to reflect more poignantly on the society we live in and how we want to live our lives and build businesses when we get through this… Designers will be able to share their stories, and for those that have them, their collections, with a wider global community; we hope that as well as personal perspectives on this difficult time, there will be inspiration in bucket loads. It is what British fashion is known for.”
The focus on storytelling and creativity rather than having to stick to one gender for clothing allows designers much more freedom and sends a message to the world to be more open when it comes to their wardrobe.
What does this mean for the future of fashion?
If Harry Styles rocking a Gucci dress on the cover of Vogue is any indication, gender-neutral dressing is here to stay. Over the past year, there have been more gender-neutral brands than ever before, so it is likely that high fashion events would have made the switch to gender-neutral in the near future, regardless of the pandemic. Many fashion experts have predicted that gendered clothing will soon be a thing of the past.
While existing retail stores seem to be hesitant to introduce their own gender-neutral collections, the world of high fashion is certainly making the shift, meaning existing retailers will likely make the change in the relatively soon. We can expect to see more and more fashion weeks encouraging gender-neutral shows making it well in the realm of possibility to no longer have men’s and women’s collections.
Follow Jenna on Instagram!