Exploring the representation of gender in the fashion industry and if it allows people to express their identity.
A growing number of people are questioning social constructs, including gender, and adopting identities outside the traditional ‘male’ and ‘female’. This is often carried out within fashion and beauty, with progressions being made towards less binary limits. Without social constraints on clothing, freely purchasing fashion items lets everyone enjoy the experience intended by the high street and high end. There’s just the question of whether labels prevent this experience.
Young people are seemingly more inclusive and celebratory of diversity in gender dressing as unisex clothing is becoming more popular with generation Z. Collusions, a gender neutral line, became the fourth best-selling brand on Asos after its first week of launch in October. Straying away from the impression that customers should specify gender when buying clothes as retail is usually categorised in male and female sections. With an understanding of gender identities, there should be – and is starting to be – an adaption to different body shapes and sizes.
In conversation with Gab Hernandez de Leon, an LGBTQ activist, he discloses the reality of fashion for trans and non-binary people and was clear that fashion has always helped him express his gender. However, is “confused by the way that non-binary clothing is all about fashion with “no gender”, although, this is an actual gender.” Suggesting that the market may not fully understand the way these particular individuals are choosing to express themselves.
“Fashion can 100% have a negative impact on people. Not being able to fit into your size because your waist is too big or because your shoulders are too small.” Giving the impression that a lot of fashion is designed for the majority with slight regard to varying body shapes of ‘petite’, ‘tall’, or ‘plus size’. He also gives an insight to how “labels can help sometimes, for example, transgenders will feel accomplished being able to fit into their desired gender clothing.” This suggests that the balance of fashions impact on identity is completely personal and down to the individual. The way one person might perceive clothing could be completely different to the next; in the same way male and female identifiers experience fashion, it is down to personality and taste.
Popular high street brands, such as Topshop and Urban Outfitters, removed gendered changing rooms last year. Providing a more positive outlook for young people to experience fashion. New brands, along with well-established names, have also taken wind of developments in society and responded to this with more androgynous styling, campaigns, shows and collections. This normalises the idea of fashion obtaining no gender, with the concept becoming part of fashion values. Catwalks are now beginning to blur the lines of gender as well, with a mix of styles, materials and models. Giving the opportunity to eradicate strong labelling as society grows.