by Joshua Allen
The past few years have seen a dramatic rise in the mainstream coverage and interest in gender-neutral fashion, especially within 2020, from challenging the stigma surrounding men wearing certain clothing items, such as skirts, to numerous celebrities being seen in more gender neutral outfits for high profile events like award ceremonies. Gender neutral fashion is becoming more and more popular as the society we live in begins to take down some of the barriers that were previously enforced surrounding gender identity, and the way in which one expresses themselves.
Part of the newfound popularity of gender-neutral fashion stems from the amount of celebrities who are being seen in more gender-neutral clothing. From Cara Delavigne’s suited looks to music artists like Lil Uzi Vert and YUNGBLUD who have been seen on numerous occasions wearing skirts and dresses. This endorsement of gender neutral fashion from some of the most influential people in society leads to a trickle down effect, people commonly look up to these actors, music artists and other famous people for fashion inspiration, so it is only natural that as they begin to push the boundaries that were originally set, we also look to begin to challenge what we’ve been told is acceptable to wear and what isn’t based upon our gender.
So much so, there are multiple brands that are currently offering gender neutral ranges. ASOS’ sub-brand Collusion has a notably large selection of unisex clothing on offer at incredibly reasonable prices. With products ranging from winter jackets to cargo trousers and even unisex suit co-ords. Collusion’s wide variety, reasonable pricing, and accessibility for the consumer make it a popular choice when looking to begin introducing unisex clothing into your wardrobe.
Adidas have also entered the fray of gender-neutral fashion with the aid of long-time collaborator Pharrell Williams, their recently released line of gender-neutral loungewear has demonstrated that gender neutrality in clothing does not necessarily mean you have to stand out. The collection consists of hoodies, t-shirts, joggers, shorts, and slides – in a multitude of colours. As Adidas states in their production description: “In the party of life, everyone’s invited”, demonstrating a dedication to inclusivity within their products. In addition to this basics collection with Pharrell, they also have numerous other gender-neutral products available on their website that could provide a sportswear-based upgrade to your outfits.
For those who look to support smaller and more sustainable brands, Official Rebrand is a more recent addition to the fashion landscape of New York. Designed by the non-binary artist MI Leggett, their work has been showcased in both New York and Berlin fashion week, multiple international galleries and even in well-known publications such as Vogue and New York Times. OR’s character stems from its use of unwanted fabrics and discarded clothing. As OR’s website states, ‘Through painting and other alterations, artist MI Leggett’s “rebranding”, process proposes an anti-waste alternative to today’s industrial and social norms’. Leggett’s revival of discarded clothing provides OR with an incredibly unique aesthetic that is sure to turn heads, from tote banks, tank tops to suit blazers, each item of their collection is adorned in abstract patterns and a provide a sense of authenticity that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
John Lewis announced in 2017, that they would be removing the labels of “Boys & Girls” from the kids clothing, from infant age, up until age 14 clothing. The idea is to remove any gender-stereotypes within their collections and promote a more open choice to clothing for kids at reasonable price points. Whilst this was praised by many, it was also heavily criticised, with some claiming that it was “Political Correctness gone mad” and that “Britain was going bonkers”. This divisive reaction demonstrates that public attitude towards gender-neutral fashion is not quite as progressive as you would hope, whether this is just the opinion of some lowly Twitter users or a widespread opinion is hard to decipher, but shows there is plenty of work to be done in raising awareness surrounding the benefits of gender-neutrality in clothing and fashion.
To close, the concept of gender-neutral fashion is here to stay, we, as a collective, are slowly figuring out the secrets and breaking the boundaries of gender and what these labels actually mean to us. However, the idea of there being a gender-neutral fashion as a separate entity from gendered fashion is incorrect. Clothes are pieces of fabric, and despite their still being an intense stigma surrounding gender-neutrality in society, clothes are not inherently gendered. Labels were made to be ripped off, and rules were made to be broken. Fashion is an expression of oneself through what you wear, a representation of your personality through fabric. It doesn’t matter who you are or how you identify, whether you decide to put on a skirt or a pair of skinny jeans when you wake up tomorrow, the idea of fashion is to be yourself, so be yourself.