Gender-neutral clothing goes mainstream

Date

Kathleen Lee Joe

An image from the Nicopanda website.

An image from the Nicopanda website.

Selfridges is creating the ultimate gender-neutral shopping experience. The luxury retailer will dedicate three floors to unisex clothing at its Oxford Street location, with additional gender-neutral spaces in its Manchester and Birmingham stores, as well as online.

The pop-up project is dubbed Agender and it will launch in March as "a fashion exploration of the masculine, the feminine and the interplay … found in between". The store said that it aims to "take…customers on a journey where they can choose to shop and dress without limitations or stereotypes." 

And it doesn't stop at clothing. Selfridges will do away with do away with male and female mannequins completely and feature unisex beauty products and accessories to sit alongside the clothing.

Though society tends to be more accepting of women wearing masculine styles – but not men wearing feminine styles – change is in the air. The recent men's collections were awash with gender-neutral trends – borrowed from the gals, if you will – and Selfridges are running with it.

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Hedi Slimane made heels for men ('meels') a thing at Saint Laurent, opening the show with a male and female model wearing the same pair of metallic heeled boots. He also dressed up his models in pink coats, taking the traditionally gendered colour and making it a hue for everyone.

J.W. Anderson and Louis Vuitton accessorised with brooche, a favourite of Miss Marple's that'd go fittingly with the pussy-bow blouses at Frida Giannini. And though the peen-flashing peepholes #freethepeen somewhat stole the spotlight at Rick Owens, the gender-bending trailblazer also caught our attention by sending skirts down the runway, as did Givenchy and Dries Van Noten. (We've been fans since way back!)

There were also women on the menswear runway at Gucci, and Acne made a concerted effort to trumpet its pro-woman credence with a scarf that read 'Gender Equality'. Gender lines are becoming increasingly blurred as designers do away with separate shopping aisles and find new ways to address fashion in a non gender-specific way.

Are we looking at the future of shopping? A world where clothes are marketed by size and body type instead of gender? Could 'menswear' and 'womenswear' soon be antiquated terms? Given that a lot of what you can buy from Gap, Uniqlo and J.Crew is already unisex in nature, it certainly looks that way. With growing demand, the category has quickly gone from niche to mainstream and Selfridges is capitalising upon it.  As the store's creative director Linda Hewson says, Agender "is not about harnessing a trend, but rather tapping into a mind-set and acknowledging and responding to a cultural shift that is happening now."

The pop-up will run until the end of April and will feature a mix of ready-to-wear and made-to-order couture. There will be an exclusive capsule collection from Nicola Formichetti and Underground, plus designs from Ann Demeulemeester, Comme des Garçons, Meadham Kirchhoff, and Gareth Pugh. 

Frankly, we're excited by the styling possibilities in this new post-gender fashion utopia! You and your S.O. can fight it out for super kawaii Formichetti-branded collectables or slay the street style game with his-and-hers versions of an entire ensemble. After all, true style works across genders.