The Gender Revolution in Fashion

Gender fluidity is a current hot-button topic in media culture, but what does it mean for fashion?  The concept has been toyed with by many designers, new and established, but recently it seems to be becoming the norm for runways.

The pioneers of gender fluidity in mainstream fashion have been here for what seems like forever now, the most well known being John Galliano for Maison Margiela, and the smash hit Alessandro Michele for Gucci. Both designers are drawn to ungendered garments, as well as the concept of cross-dressing in their shows. With these two brands being some of the biggest creative names in the industry, other designers seem to be following suit. In recent seasons, brands have begun eliminating the ideas of “womenswear” and “menswear” completely, and just designing for everyone all at once. (Hooray!)  

This philosophy was put on full display this year with major brands like Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, and Givenchy adding male-identifying models to their “womenswear” collections, or just scratching gender-labelled collections altogether. Ungendered collections were also released by up-and-coming New York favorites such as Eckhaus Latta, Pyer Moss, and Sies Marjan.  The main theme throughout all of these shows appeared to be clothes that could be sold to either gender, and the use of boxy silhouettes that could adapt to all bodies.

These great strides have changed fashion into a much more relevant industry within the course of just two years, and the diversifying will only increase as time goes by. These actions are most likely the result of a dying fashion industry, with luxury brands finding it harder and harder to market their products to the younger generations. As Gen Z enters its twenties, its members have become the target market for brands, not millenials. The only problem is that Gen Z is vastly different from Millennials, and therefore cannot be marketed to in the same way, resulting in mass crisis for the fashion industry and its designers.  

Because Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with social media and smartphones, it is the first to experience such a constant stream of information during its youth. This has resulted in strongly opinionated young people, something that marketers are not used to, and the fashion industry has had to adapt. The generation’s desire for individuality and equality has forced the industry to respond with genderless collections and more wearable designs for the consumer.

This targets men specifically, because it aims to normalize the idea of something other than dark colors and suits being appropriate for them to wear. Whether women realize it or not, fashion is the one area where we really do have the upper hand. Women fought for their right to wear “male-specific” items like pants and blazers, and thankfully we won. However, it is not fair that we are granted the options to dress in a masculine or feminine manner while men aren’t. 

Now, I don’t think that we will see lots of straight men walking around in dresses anytime soon, but we are headed towards positive, progressive change. The industry is beginning to listen to its consumers, and it’s becoming clear that Gen Z craves an unprecedented wholeness because we’ve grown up in the heat of division. Generally speaking, eliminating separation is key; our lack of communication only promotes the ignorance and further interpersonal divide. Clothes may just be the one thing that can bring us together to allow for more open communication and understanding between genders…who knew?  Apparently, we did.

By Lindsey Rogers

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