Style shouldn’t come with rules, and it seems like the fashion industry is finally taking note…
Once upon a time, boys were expected to dress like boys and girls were told to dress like girls.
But since gender-specific fashion is just a series of social constructs, what does dressing ‘like a boy’ or ‘like a girl’ actually mean?
The answer is, basically, nothing. We should all wear whatever we want to wear, and it seems like the fashion industry is catching up to this fact.
From designing with style over gender in mind to growing representation of genderqueer groups, here are four ways the fashion industry is finally becoming more gender-neutral.
1. The catwalks are combining
Gucci, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, JW Anderson - the list of fashion brands combining their men’s and women’s catwalk shows is ever-growing.
The shift to a single show instead of one for menswear and one for womenswear is indicative of a growing customer disregard of gender labels when it comes to shopping for their new-season wardrobe.
Where the catwalk leads, high-street brands will follow.
Take H&M and Boohoo, who have both launched gender-neutral clothing lines in recent years, as well as River Island’s genderless children’s collection and gender-free Ashish collaboration.
2. Style comes first
Brands are finally catching up to the fact that when we like something, we’ll buy it, regardless of what ‘gender’ it was supposedly made for.
From shoes to specs and everything in-between, it’s all about the design.
One brand living this philosophy right now is Specsavers, who have launched a new range called Design Collective, which has been designed by students.
One young designer put inclusivity at the heart of her frames.
Tiffany Bachelet, who studies at the University of Dundee, says: “I really wanted these glasses to be for everyone, not gender specific. For me it’s all about style.
“This collection is about tearing apart the barriers society has built.
“There will be no male or female spectacles, only spectacles.”
3. The gender binary is blurring
The days of expecting people to subscribe to the gender binary line aren’t quite over, but the world is making headway in recognising that gender is a spectrum.
From non-binary to genderqueer and transgender, media representation and social understanding of the gender spectrum is leading to fashion brands recognising and designing for this untapped market.
We’re not just talking about big brands, of course.
Independent brands like Plus Equals, a range of unapologetic designs for plus size customers, and unisex babywear company Tobias and the Bear are amongst indie brands designing with the full gender spectrum in mind.
4. Identity is everything
Fashion has had its fair share of personalities, and self-expression has always been integral to style.
From David Bowie and Prince to Grace Jones and Boy George, gender-dismissive dressers have long led the way when it comes to our style inspiration.
In 2019, we have Jaden Smith and his staunch love of skirts, Lena Waithe and her snapbacks and Ruby Rose’s wardrobe, which feels neither decidedly masculine or feminine.
All this style has filtered out into the mainstream and has given others the confidence to fully express their identity.
While we still have a long way to go before dressing exactly how you want is safe all around the world, baby steps are happening, and it’s a great thing.
This summer Specsavers has launched the Design Collective. The unique collection of 14 glasses and sunglasses, designed by four students, draws on their own personal inspirations to create a range that celebrates individuality, encouraging everyone to wear their specs with pride.