Gender neutral clothing is a movement that is slowly being absorbed into mainstream fashion labels, as more information is discovered and revealed in terms of gender fluidity. But will it ever become the norm?
With the release of Zara and H&M’s gender neutral clothing lines we see a shift in marketing from some of the world’s largest clothing conglomerates. As acceptance and equality continues to grow we could be steadily approaching a tipping point in the world of fashion.
The concept of male and female clothing, although primarily based around sizing, is an odd one. In many cases you are able to find the same piece of clothing being branded as either/or. Yet, due to the fact one is labelled female and the other male, it immediately deters the opposite sex from wearing it.
The decision to remove this label not only enables a more diverse array of sizes for both men and women without any stigma, but also leads to the potential for variety when it comes to colour and design.
Bright colours, bold moves
Although we are past the times of “blue is for boys and pink is for girls”, there is still an artistic concept of what is branded as male and female. The current mainstream gender neutral clothing lines are primarily based around, as you would expect, neutral colours; grey, black, white, with a few exceptions.
Bright coloured, bold designs are yet to be tried and tested by brands. This could be the sticking point into gender neutral lines breaking into the mainstream.
There is not much of a distinction between fashion and art; designers are heralded for their pieces similarly to great painters and for good reason. However, mainstream clothing lines primarily all have one aim and that is to appease the masses and thus generate the most profit.
Brands and retailers don’t tend to prioritise bold artistic integrity in comparison to statement designer lines. And it makes sense – if they took a risk it could lose them money. By creating a divide between male and female clothing, they are able to alter their pricing for items that are very, if not entirely, similar.
Removing this barrier could potentially diminish their control of pricing and thus be a less than favourable decision. In addition to this, gender neutrality is not a prevalent issue when it comes to mass marketing. It does not concern the majority of people so investing into this line would most likely not be in a brand or business’ direct interest.
How designer brands are leading the change
The spring season of 2019 has been the most groundbreaking when it comes to gender neutral fashion. That’s due to designer brands and their statement fashion shows.
One example is Louis Vuitton who have used young short-haired female models, including a transsexual named Krow. The models wore boxy suits and bomber jackets, which are traditionally viewed as male outfits.
Transsexuals in high-end fashion have begun to see greater representation all round and this links in with the rise in gender neutral fashion. Barriers are being broken down and fluidity promoted.
Gender neutral fashion meets mainstream influencers
The men’s designer Virgil Abloh has recently been dressing the top celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Bella Hadid in his menswear. This decision will leave an impact on the mainstream movement as celebrity influences primarily lead the charge when it comes to current trends and social movements.
The one shift that is very unlikely to break out into the mainstream is men wearing skirts or high heels, clothing that holds very feminine connotations. There isn’t an issue with this, as the main importance is that acceptance grows in time and if someone did want to wear something out of the ordinary, they wouldn’t be judged.
Mainstream society does seem to be moving in that positive direction.
So will gender neutral fashion ever be mainstream?
A social change would have to occur over time in order for gender neutral clothing to break out into the mainstream, which perhaps will take place in the coming years.
It is well known that commonly smaller clothing lines make groundbreaking changes when it comes to the fashion world. Plus, with the incredible rise in social influencers all it takes is one tweet from Kylie Jenner and companies would begin to flock to the idea. A unified push from celebrity figures could have a huge impact on the current dynamic.
As society develops and moves further towards acceptance there is strong potential for gender neutral fashion to transform into a far more recognised and demanded feature of clothing lines. Will gender neutral fashion ever be mainstream? Maybe. But the chances of the gender divide being removed completely, maybe not.