The fashion industry embraces gender-neutral styles

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A photograph of Lil Nas X at BET Awards 2021 wearing a full-skirted gown designed by Andrea Grossi.

In Harajuku, Japan’s epicenter of fashion, jendaresu-kei or “genderless style” is nothing new.

Japanese teens embraced gender-fluid and gender-free fashion long before any of the major fashion houses came on board. Now, gender-fluid fashion is exploding; it is one of the fastest-growing categories in fashion, and we see more and more celebrities and influencers embracing the style.

The idea that fashion would be limited by binary restrictions is outdated—clothing has no gender.”

For some fashion houses, namely, the fashion house of Gucci, gender fashion has been recurring. “Alessandro Michele’s Gucci collections have skewed gender-free for some time, and the label’s runway shows welcome both male and female models wearing clothing interchangeably. The luxury house made it official last year when it launched The MX Project, a gender-fluid collection of apparel and accessories” (Velasquez & Velasquez, 2021). If not to be left behind, more and more brands are expanding their collections to include genderless options. Even large mainstream lines are including gender-inclusive lines. In 2018, Abercrombie & Fitch created a gender-inclusive line called the “Everybody Collection.”

Major labels with their eyes on the profitable trends will be losing footing in an expanding market if they don’t embrace the trend. “A report from the advertising agency Bigeye found that less than half of female-identifying Gen Zers, 45 percent, said they primarily wore clothes designed for women—69 percent of all female respondents said the same—and 28 percent said they wore clothes designed for women or men depending on how they felt. Among those identifying as male, 71 percent of those from Gen Z said they primarily wore clothes designed for men, compared to 84 percent overall” (Velasquez & Velasquez, 2021).

Celebrities and influencers continue as trailblazers in gender-free fashion, and in my opinion, no one does it better than Lil Nas X. Lil Nas X has always been iconic, and his 2021 Met Gala outfits were the epitome of chic. He, along with other notables, such as Cole Sprouse, Billie Eilish, and Harry Styles are at the forefront of gender-fluid fashion. Above all else, it’s simply more natural and freeing to be able to see creative people unencumbered by restrictions in the industry, and this is a trend that I am certain will trickle down to the larger public.

A growing number of major brands are already championing gender-fluid, unisex, or polysexual fashions. Marc Jacobs’ “Heaven” capsule is one example. “Marc has long been a believer that clothing itself is not inherently gendered, rather society norms have previously determined certain garments are for certain people, (we) see a great deal of hope in today’s youth, that these limiting ‘rules’ are increasingly no longer relevant, with a renewed courage to be oneself,’ Eric Marechalle, the CEO of Marc Jacobs International told WWD in a recent report” (Yu, 2021).

The courage to be oneself is at the heart of anything creative, especially in fashion. Whenever we as a society push barriers that limit self-expression, it’s something to be celebrated. The world of fashion is starting to listen to its younger consumers; the idea that fashion would be limited by binary restrictions is outdated—clothing has no gender.