How androgyny is taking off and what it means for the future of the industry
In the past years, we as a society have undergone immense cultural shifts that will forever change the way we operate. As more people vocalize their stories and express a desire to be true to themselves—be it as a part of the #MeToo movement or in response to our tumultuous political climate—we are beginning to reframe our perception of gender and sex, and our role in the construction of stringent norms and expectations in the presentation of identity.
The fashion industry has a tired history in the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and norms. The way we dress has long been a primary mode of self-expression, so long as that expression fits neatly and comfortably into our preconceived notions surrounding sex. This is no longer the case, as we become more educated on the complexities of gender and the hand this plays in a person’s sense of self. Naturally, the vast evolution of our view on gender has trickled down into the fashion industry, causing designers to seriously consider for whom they make their clothes, and what this says about their brand. Though the change is slow to take hold in mass production, designers have begun to blur the lines between men’s and women’s fashion with the introduction of androgynous pieces into their collections. What’s more, in 2018 the fashion industry saw a rise in completely gender-free clothing lines, and NYC saw the opening of its first gender-neutral shopping space, The Phluid Project.
The Phluid Project aims to embrace gender fluidity, providing their consumers with a judgement-free, empowerment-focused line of clothes to be worn by whoever, whenever. Their site reads, “Identity is everything and ever-evolving. We work to challenge ideas and offer opportunities for growth.” This notion encapsulates the main goal of androgynous fashion: to give people the freedom to dress however they want—a true, unabashed form of self-expression.
We can see a growing interest in androgynous dressing on a larger cultural scale, as celebrities like Jaden Smith, Cara Delevingne, and Ezra Miller embrace the destruction of gender lines from within the public eye. Most recently, Miller took to the red carpet for his movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, in a jaw-dropping look comprised of a long puffer dress and black lipstick, and graced the cover of GQ with a story featuring a collection of stunning, gender-bending outfits. This sparked a frenzy in the media, with everyone from major news outlets to talk show hosts to blogs addressing Miller’s unapologetic expression of self through style, remarking on how this reflects our society’s growing embrace of gender fluidity, and considering what this says about the future of fashion.
Though our shifting understanding of gender and fashion is undeniable, seeing the true change of ideas that have long been intrinsic to our society will take time. In an article by the Huffington Post, Willis Chan, a member of menswear collection ante meridiem, said, “Interest in androgyny seems to be increasing, and I believe it takes one step at a time to reach the point where the general mass breaks down the barrier of what is masculine and feminine, and just wears clothing that they feel comfortable in.”
If 2018 is any indication of what’s to come for the fashion industry and its shifting attitude towards gender, our future holds a growing demand for fluidity and an increase in ways to express oneself outside of what’s expected. We are certainly in the process of change, but it is still, after all, just that: a process.