Genderless Clothing - Guest Blog
by Lionel Siongco
As fashion continues to evolve and adapt to its consumers’ needs, there’s one market that may soon be increasing exponentially- genderless fashion. This new movement constitutes clothing aimed to both genders, or none at all, depending upon your definition of gender constructs. But why do labels and categories for clothing exist in the first place? What makes a skirt feminine or a blazer masculine? Do these pieces of clothing really inform others , but more importantly ourselves, of a gender identity?
When I saw Marc Jacobs start to bring around the man skirt trend circa 2011, I was hypnotized. Here was a true man, not afraid to embrace his femininity. His ripped torso with the knee-length pleated skirts was the perfect balance of masculine and feminine. As a young kid studying fashion design, I did like any other when one sees a new trend- follow it. But as much as I wanted to find that perfect skirt, I couldn’t find one.
But that may be changing. High fashion brands such as Givenchy, Rad Hourini, and Rick Owens have all been for men wearing skirts, long tunics, and even heels. But the mainstream is catching on. Zara released a genderless line in 2016 labelled ‘Ungendered’. H&M released a unisex denim line in 2017. With the rise of and demand of queer representation and more ways to express, identify, and label ourselves, we end up asking the deeper question of ‘what does a man/woman even look like? And what do they wear?’.
Today you can find countless brands labeling themselves as gender-neutral. But what inherently makes skirts solely belong to females? Why is a suit on a woman deemed as ‘power dressing’? Many of these gender neutral brands simply deem oversize clothing in accessible colors for both/no gender dressing. But I want to see skirts, crop tops, and lace for men. When it comes to dressing, women already have the privilege of being able to wear every single piece of clothing whomever it was intentionally designed for. Though this doesn’t make fashionable suits, button ups, or brogues any more accessible than that aforementioned for men.
Beyond skirts, I now crave a perfect summer crop top and love painting my nails. I always keep short lengths above my knees, and the shorter the better. I’ve realized and honed that I am capable of calling myself ‘masculine’ while being able to rock typically ‘feminine’ items. Realizing that clothes aren’t limited to gender binaries makes the art of dressing even more enjoyable and shows we all encapsulate masculine/feminine potentials.
As fast as fashion seems to move, its strides in the genderless category may not be at the same pace. Although trends are easily malleable and come and go, culture is not. We need to truly see the future as genderless for fashion to follow. We must break down our own cultural barriers of what men and women are ‘supposed’ to wear to simply have the table as “clothes” instead of menswear/womenswear. Even redefine for ourselves what it means to be a man or a woman.
As queer representation is on the rise and in demand, I’m hopeful for this cultural shift. But the questions remains if gender-neutral clothing really takes a look look at identity politics, or just another trend fashion is capitalizing on to sell more stuff to us that we just don’t need. Until the day comes where I can buy a skirt in the “clothes” section of a store, it seems that this may be just another marketing ploy.
The opinions and ideas expressed in the article are opinion-based and do not belong to the quarterrican.