As inclusion and diversity increases across society and the fashion industry, we have seen a rise in ‘unisex’ fashion, clothing focused on breaking down the barriers between gendered fashion and welcoming all.
From celebrities influencing the changes in gender boundaries to companies adopting a more inclusive approach to their uniform policies, gender and fashion have adjusted over the past years.
Here, we will discuss the rise in gender-neutral norms and the fashion which is following this change in society.
A gender-neutral society
Society, over the last few years, has broken down the barriers of gender identity. Fashion icons and performing artists Jaden Smith and Harry Styles have proved high-profile front runners in the expansion of fashion outside of gender norms, which is all about advocating self-expression through clothing and avoiding the limitations of gendered designs.
More and more people are searching for ungendered fashion with keyword volumes of gender terms increasing by one third across searches in 2021. People are prioritising comfort and self-expression over traditional gender cuts, and it is showing. Versatile clothing is increasing and the trend of gender-neutral fashion boomed across social media in 2020 with hashtags such as #genderfluidfashion appearing 5.7 million times on TikTok.
In fact, the Phluid Project found that 56% of Gen Z actively search for clothing outside of their assigned gender. As this new generation of adults reaches into the corporate and fashion world, the industries must grow with them.
In June, the second London Fashion Week of 2022 dedicated itself to gender-neutrality, featuring models of all genders during its usual menswear collection slot. By encouraging gender-neutral fashion, self-identity and body inclusivity is increased.
Many designers and brands are now embracing the growing trend of inclusivity and gender-neutral designs. Take for example respected designer Grace Wales Bonner, who in 2014 released the gender-free clothing label Wales Bonner.
TooGood, a London-based company started by two sisters, is also a gender-less fashion brand. They believe their work should be accessible to everyone and, while in their later collections they released a range of both men-leaning and women-leaning clothing, they believe society is neither fully gendered or gender-less and that fashion should replicate this notion. Starting with an instillation project during the 2013 London Design Festival, TooGood aimed to provide genderless, sustainable clothing. Their clothing avoided form fitting cuts and designs in order to be more accessible.
Ann Dowdeswell, Commercial Director from Jermyn Street Design said: “Our society is no longer based on gender and our clothing shouldn’t be either. For us, it is about prioritising staff individuality. This can increase employee morale and comfort, giving your customers a better experience.
“And genderless fashion isn’t just important for the inclusivity of all, but it is also a sustainability measure. With the option to be worn by any number of staff, you will find less uniform waste, reducing your carbon footprint.”
Businesses are also now reaching into gender-neutralising their clothing. Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic airlines recently announced that cabin crew, pilots, and ground staff will have the option to choose their own airline uniforms, regardless of gender.
As society moves away from traditional gender norms and towards a more diverse and inclusive time, fashion should transition with it. People are no longer looking for form fitting, cropped, or overly gendered clothing but rather prefer to find clothing which provides comfort and self-expression for all. And it is not only the public breaking these gender norms, but celebrities and companies alike.