I looked into this question hidden deep in a drive letter, a throwaway line in a note on something else. I’ve been writing about the genderless movement for years now, serious stories about the unisex change in retail beadwork from Harry Styles, or the rare Celine blouse worn by Kanye and Travis Scott, back when Meghan Markle chose the designer without sex. Grace Wales Bonner for her baby reveals a trench dress. But I realized that I couldn’t easily give a long answer to this short question: there are a lot of things I didn’t know and I wanted to talk to the people who live in this question for a living.
The pop culture landscape is teeming with references to a new way of gender expression: take, for example, this month’s killer GQ cover featuring A $ AP Rocky in a kilt, reminding us that hip stars- hop have long since subverted gender norms through fashion. Or A-Rod launching a line of makeup for men (hey, that’s just a concealer, but it’s a start!). See also last week, Demi Lovato coming out as non-binary (or “enby”, for NB, her preferred terminology; “they” is their preferred pronoun). Yet it is gender identity. What we’re talking about here is more of the gender expression seen through fashion. It was reported in WWD that Gen Z has embraced gender fluidity with their wallets: around 56% of these young people have made purchases outside of their traditional gender realms. Fluidity has entered the wider public consciousness (read: older), the fact that gender expression exists along a continuum. Fashion is how we express who we are on the inside. It means embracing traditionally feminine and masculine elements in a fluid way: you can wear any gender expression you feel that day.
To help us break through the different words to understand their meaning – sexless, gender neutral, gender fluid, gender inflection, unisex are some of the terms I have found used by brands and designers – I called Montreal designer Pedram Karimi. . Karimi has used the term ‘genderfree’ to describe his own work since launching his eponymous brand in 2012. Born in Iran, Karimi studied dance and theater in Toronto, then completed his fashion studies in London and to Montreal. He has presented his collections at fashion shows for men and women in Toronto and New York.
Karimi opened his dream boutique, OneUndone – a very neat mix of art and one-of-a-kind craftsmanship and designers he admires, some gender-neutral as well – in downtown Montreal in 2019. Stopping the pandemic, unfortunately, has forced him to close the doors for good. Undeterred, he spent the year leading online meditation classes to further the project of spreading, in his own words, “unconditional love.”
“Gender is a social construct. If (the garment) fits you and you like it, you wear it! is Karimi’s simple motto. The disappearance of trends – and the rise of individual style – will help break this social construct, he says. “Right now we’re living in a fashion supermarket, all of these aisles. We can choose what we want. “
That said, there is work to be done in fashion retail. Most department stores and chains, online and offline, keep their gender categories in silos. Zara, H&M and Simons all launched gender-neutral capsule collections a few years ago, but haven’t made the concept permanent. Old Navy, however, is to be commended for its substantial gender neutral stock in its online store. Montreal-based online retailer Ssense, while still apparently divided into men’s and women’s sections, has worked to create gender-neutral content over the past five years, in order to connect with its young demographic.
In the haute couture arena, Louis Vuitton has been casting fluid gender models for years now, since hiring Jaden Smith to present a women’s ready-to-wear campaign in 2016. La Maison Saint Laurent designed by Anthony Vaccarello launched a non-sexist collection last summer; this echoes the breaking of the borders of the founder of the house, Yves Saint Laurent, who flirted a lot with the fluidity of genres in the 70s. Alessandro Michele at Gucci – with his muse, Harry Styles, who expresses himself as he pleases her, in dresses and often with pearls, heels and bags – has blurred the gender lines on her catwalks with her exuberant collections that work. on men and women almost interchangeably. Then there’s the rebranded Gucci Jackie1961 handbag, as advertised in the Styles arm, which has been marketed specifically for men and women.
Karimi, who charmingly doesn’t know who Harry Styles is, has an artistic vision of a genderless utopian future. He describes it not looking like a melting pot, where we all wear the same things, “but more like a bowl of self-expression. If we can remove the judgment, we can each be a product: lettuce, onion, tomato, all working together to make a beautiful salad.
The fluidity of the sexes in the dress is nothing new in fashion. Think of the beauty of Damian Lewis playing Henry VIII in pantyhose in Hilary Mantel’s TV version of “Wolf Hall”. Women “borrow from boys” from Coco Chanel’s first collection with pants and jackets. Jean-Paul Gaultier was a big supporter of men in skirts. Gap popularized the idea of unisex basics in 1969. Picture David Bowie, Prince, Mick Jagger and all the emo bands of the 80s: guyliner and boas and glitter on rock stars are part of the fabric of musical history. But twenty years have passed: The first years of this century weren’t overwhelmingly exciting, in terms of revolutionary self-expression, at least not before Billy Porter was knocked out with a Christian Siriano tuxedo. and a matching ball skirt.
“Honestly, I don’t know if it’s a runoff or a runoff,” Karimi says of the genderless movement. It looks, on the contrary, just like an idea whose time has come. Here in Canada, we have an international star in Rad Hourani, who has been creating famous clothes “no sex, no race, no nation, no limits” since 2007. Some other designers Karimi admires, for their message and the quality of their work , include: Brit Wacher, Process Visual, Field of Ponies and Andrew Coimbra.
Karimi tells me that after he closed his store, he felt that “the world does not need another tunic”. But half an hour later in the conversation, he was lively talking about his next fashion idea. The desire to create is universal. This genderless fashion thing is the future: it’s time to start expressing exactly how you feel.
Buy the tips
These brands offer great gender-neutral options. Brands for babies and children are also making their debut.
Rad Horani shorts, $ 645, radhourani.com
These Rad Hourani pleated shorts have enough weight to look like a skirt. Harry Styles paired them with a t-shirt and beads.
Peace Collective sweatshirt, $ 85, peace-collective.com
Fluid genre athleisure of one of the most successful in the comfort fashion game.
Adidas shoulder bag, $ 35, adidas.ca
Part of gender fluid fashion prioritizes functionality: everyone needs a sporty shoulder bag to carry their essentials.
Old Navy T-shirt, $ 25, oldnavy.gapcanada.ca
A beautiful portable equality message.
H&M sleepers, $ 25 (for 3), hm.com
This trio of super soft baby jumpsuits comes in a palette that transcends the traditional blue and pink divide.
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