Blurred Lines - The Agender Movement
The concept of gender neutrality is a detail in fashion that is becoming more and more prominent. Having watched the incredible interview with Bruce Jenner and his decision to publically discuss his transition process brought in mind the challenges that many people face with the gender binary in fashion. The current shopping experience can be difficult for many consumers who are trying to find a safe space to explore their gender expression. However, the concept of gender neutrality is a detail in fashion that is becoming more prominent. Ed Burstell, the CEO of Liberty of London, said that stores are constantly arguing about how they can find a common denominator between the sexes for their ranges.
Toronto has just seen the launch of Future is the Future, a new clothing store that is not gender specific. Deriving its name from a song by the band Electric Six, the Future is the Future was founded by Natalia Manzocco. The business idea is rooted in the belief that it is sometimes easier to shop assessing how the clothes appear on a person rather than be unfairly forced to navigate through the traditional paradigm of a men’s or women’s section. To this effect, photos of their entire stock were posted online by Future is the Future. From the images you could deduce that they were modeled by ordinary people with vital information such as length dimensions, bust, waist and arms and assembly instructions for the model. Right on point is a description of a Banana Republic sweater said to fit from the men’s perspective or that of extra large in the women’s perspective. A vintage varsity jacket matches up as a small for men or large for women, accompanied with a little description of its origin – a high school in Windsor, Ontario.
Future is the Future is not the only androgynous clothing store or brand, but it is definitely the pinnacle of what appears to be a new trend for Canada. Los Angeles’ Grayscale Goods and Brooklyn based Marimacho are other precursors in this field of fashion.
Selfridges, voted the best department store in the world, follows the philosophy that men and women are not so different now, focusing on what a marketing professional calls “the agender". Selfridges has launched gender-neutral shopping, removing the restrictions often placed on consumers that limit their shopping experience. Right from the angular costumes of Grace Jones to the androgynous costumes of David Bowie, fashion representatives are removing any boundaries that existed in the past and are now free to experiment with gender. In addition to the announcement released from the Oxford Street store, Selfridges will also do away with their traditional models. Selfridges believes that buyers do not want to be defined or limited by gender any longer. Instead, they are willing do unisex or “agender” shopping for clothes.
Smaller labels like KTZ, Trapstar and Hood By Air, are rapidly becoming popular with women who desire an androgynous style. The unisex Boy London range gained massive popularity as the famous hip-pop female singer Rihanna was spotted wearing their clothes.
Last year, several designers experimented with gender-neutral styles. Vivienne Westwood’s AW14 women’s wear collection drew inspiration from a Tilda Swinton androgynous pinup.
Many brands have experienced an increase in the number of women who buy men’s clothes and the number of men selecting knitwear made for women. Jane Shepherdson, the Chief Executive and figurehead at Whistles, correctly concluded that the imaginary line that distinguished men’s wear from that of women is beginning to fade away.