Why ‘Genderless’ Style Isn’t Truly Genderless

When we think of genderless or androgynous style, we immediately evoke images of women in oversized clothing, women in suits, women in boyfriend jeans… etc.
What do all these characteristics have in common? ‘Genderless’ style is supposed to be for both men and women, however the trend really means ‘women dressing like men’.

Bianca Jagger circa 1979

But it’s not fashion’s fault – it’s not even for a lack of trying – it is merely a reflection of the times we live in. Since the rise in popularity of the LGBTQ movement in a more progressive society, we have seen this reflection within fashion too, albeit incredibly slowly.

However, we still have ways to go. The concept of ‘genderless’ is a relatively new one, coined by the millennial mindset. While the idea has definitely been around for a while, it has only made its way into society throughout the 2010s.

Runway show at Giorgio Armani

Androgynous style has been increasingly integrated into outfits and collections around the world – from fashion houses to street brands. Such efforts have been seen from Zara and Selfridges, with their Ungendered and Agender collections (respectively) presenting a neutral range of wardrobe basics and staples for both genders. While a step in the right direction, Zara’s ‘Ungendered’ collection received backlash for presenting a line comprised of already assumed genderless basics – not exactly groundbreaking or innovative in the genderless line, and looked at as more of a cash-grab for the hottest rising trend.

Campaign for Selfridge’s ‘Agender’ collection
Campaign for Zara’s ‘Ungendered’ collection

This is problematic as it contributes nothing to the trend, nor does it attempt to advance it. Especially with ready-to-wear clothing from stores such as Zara, many people look to these outlets for direction and most look to these stores for any type of clothing to throw on. With this collection, it remained mainly one-sided, with the clothes gearing more towards masculine type clothing (eg. sweatpants and jumpers).

With the genderless trend having been popular for a couple of years now, retailers and the general fashion scene seem to still not fully grasp the concept. ‘Genderless’ isn’t completely true to it’s name yet, as the concept begs society to ignore the notion of gender completely and instead focus on the clothing. This means men in items such as skirts and dresses – an idea which has been executed for years.

Despite missteps by certain retailers, a few brands have come correct with the genderless concept. In my opinion, one such brand achieving the true genderless style is streetwear brand Hood By Air. By playing with traditionally feminine silhouettes, the company has pushed boundaries in achieving the true pinnacle of genderless style.

Hood by Air Collection Spring Summer 2016 Menswear in Paris
HBA’s Spring/Summer 2016 Menswear show in Paris

Additionally, Los Angeles’ based brand 69 prides itself as a ‘non-gender’ and ‘non-demographic’ clothing label, dedicating to breaking down the conformative barriers of standard clothing.
With labels like these truly breaking down the barriers of gender based style, it shines a bright light on the future of the genderless trend and creates hope for true equality in fashion.

What’s your take on the genderless trend? Let me know in the comments below!

Header image taken from here.