22.7.15

Is gender being abolished in the fashion industry?

Lately, it seems that unisex, or genderless fashion is in the forefront of designers and retails minds alike. From unisex collections being shown at the Prada catwalk, to Selfridges abolishing gender and only selling unisex clothes in their 'Agender' collection for a period earlier this year, to Dame Vivienne Westwood unveiling her 'Unisex' AW15 campaign shot by Juergen Teller, the concept of unisex fashion is definitely having a moment.
Miuccia Prada, for example, said of designing the Prada SS '15 collection that saw a fusion on menswear and womenswear on one catwalk together, that she "thought to people, not to gender".
The idea of gender stereotypes within fashion are dissolving and a new style that can be worn by either gender is emerging. However it is worth noting that this is not an entirely new concept, Alexander McQueen did introduce gender nonspecific fashion in the nineties, and it has, in recent years, been subtly included in fashion shows.




However, modern gender specific ideals have not always been in place. For example, in the eighteenth century, pink was deemed a strong, decided colour and thus was favoured by men, whereas blue was seen as delicate, softer colour and hence baby girls were often dressed in blue. Women throughout history have used masculine clothing as a tool of political and social emancipation. Obviously, subversion of gender using fashion doesn't necessarily mean the idea of unisex is present. Now however, the idea of borrowing a man's clothes is changing, and fashion is moving towards a gender-neutral future.
Certainly, the concept of a man wearing a skirt would still be laughed about by many. The constructed gender ideals are something that have been instilled in the minds of many generations, not only through the media - which has of course exploded in the twentieth century - but especially through fashion.

Androgyny is something that has been favoured by fashion for a long time. Seemingly-genderless models are often used to promote both male and female fashion brands, although this raises questions on physical ideals enforced by popular media, a topic that can, and probably will be discusses on here in the near future. However, that fact that unisex clothing is now being introduced, could this also affect the models that are used to promote the collections? It is interesting that androgyny is now developing into genderless-ness.

Fashion is no longer consumed with ideals of gender, and rather creating garments that can be enjoyed by anyone. It will be interesting to see it's development in the upcoming collections.
And with NY just having their first Men's Fashion Week, will the increasing notion of genderless fashion have an impact on fashion week? It may mean that there are no long gender specific fashion weeks and instead mens and womenswear will always be sent down the catwalk united, side by side. Further still, where will this leave fashion magazine? Will we still have Vogue and Elle for women, Vouge Homme and GQ for men, or will unisex magazine emerge and take over?
Brands like Topshop and Topman may consider blending, while The Kooples, who's whole USP is dressing the two sexes present in a 'koople' may have to rethink their marketing strategy.

Whilst the idea of abolishing gender norms and specifics in fashion is something I really support and I enjoy seeing the evolution of this unisex style, personally, I would like to see unisex clothing to develop further than largely shapeless pieces, I think theres so much that could be done in terms of making clothes genderless. It does, however,  raise lots of points for debate and questions about where the future of fashion will lie in a genderless society.



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