When I was 16 my mum offered me one of her denim Levi’s shirts that she had discovered whilst decluttering her wardrobe. I can recall trying it on, noticing the buttons were placed on the left instead of the right, that the sleeves were baggy, and the shirts fit just felt boxy. I said to my mum “This is a little big for a woman’s shirt, isn’t it?” to which she replied, “Everything was baggier back then”.
At the age of 16, my ignorance had appropriated baggier clothing with men and fitted clothing with women, and I was unaware of my institutionalized gender appropriation back then. However, since educating myself about feminism (as every man should do), I began to realise that masculinity in society has applied these fashion standards by encouraging sex appeal within women’s clothing.
That Levi’s shirt is still one of my favourite shirts, and to this day I wear it on the regular. My anecdote was simply meant to express how society has and still does continue to pigeonhole dress codes for genders. A clear example for instance would be taking a trip to a local clothes store such as H&M and spotting that dividing wall or separate floor in the location of clothing. Seriously H&M, stop making men walk the stairs!
Unisex clothing can also be a sustainable and viable approach to a hopeful future, we all know the stereotype of the teenage girl borrowing her boyfriend’s jumper - after all sharing is caring. Not only does the jumper remind them of their loved one, but its style and fit is relaxed and more comforting. The idea of women preferring to wear men’s clothing has even adopted the term ‘Boyfriend Fit’, where the style of clothing is looser and normally shadowed off the fit of men’s straight jeans.
The benefits of going genderless
Can genderless clothing promote a sustainable lifestyle? Well, attaining our garments for a longer period of time is beneficial for the circular economy. Swapping clothes with friends and loved ones (regardless of gender) will extend the longevity of that item. Instead of donating or binning them, exchanging clothes can offer that new piece excitement we get with a first hand buy, with the knowledge you're benefiting our planet simultaneously.
Let’s state the obvious: A piece of fabric, a textile, or a garment has no gender. If an item of clothing intended for a man will make you feel content and comfortable, then who cares? Genderless fashion is inclusive, and it heavily accommodates for the LGBT+ community, whose consensus believe that their gender and sexual orientation does not dictate their lifestyle. 56% of Generation Z consumers shop outside their assigned gendered area, could this be because we don’t feel comfortable in the clothes designers are making specifically for our genders?
We need to educate ourselves on gender, roles, and perceptions, and by moving away from a binary mindset we inadvertently become more accepting towards our peers and are less inclined to judge based on gender. We are each assigned to a sex when we are born, however gender identity is what we associate ourselves as. Gender expression on the other hand, is how we express ourselves regardless of identity, and some people may identify as a male but chose to express themselves in a more feminine way.
Get to know Karmagawa
If you’re unaware of the clothing company Karmagawa, it's a company that endorses eco-friendly and equal rights messages within their range of apparel, as a sustainable and activist alternative to mainstream fashion brands. As well as their clothing being unisex, their products help to spread awareness of important matters which need addressing, with messages centred around topics which take a back seat within mainstream media, such as child poverty and educational fairness.
Karmagawa’s sole purpose is giving back to educational and environmental charities around the world. These matters affect all genders, which is why their cause to create genderless garments as a unique selling point for donations are important, as in 2018 Karmagawa donated a grand £1.5 million in total to charities alone. The company is one in a few genderless apparel brands which are donating 80% of their profits to charitable causes, so you can be safe in the knowledge you'll be receiving quality products, which will not only allow you to wear a message but to also support one.