FASHION HAS NO GENDER
BY COCO COREY AND HANNAH OSTFIELD
Gender non-conforming fashion is exploding; it is one of the fastest growing categories in fashion, and we see more and more celebrities and influencers embracing this style and fighting against restriction within the industry.
Fashion can be used as an avenue to push boundaries, freeing people from the limits placed on them solely because of their gender. In the 20th and 21st century, Coco Chanel and Alexander Mcqueen revolutionized the way women wore clothing by challenging gender stereotypes. Chanel helped women get out of Victorian corsets and other uncomfortable garments, addressing inequality and liberating women. She embodied an avant garde artist; her designs allowed women to take on a more masucline look with straighter silhouettes and broader shoulders. “Her designs came in sleek lines, devoid of the restrictive girdles and other garments that she had grown up with and which were made to train the female torso into sexually desirable shapes” (Colgan, n.d.). In essence, Chanel made women’s fashion for women, not men. Alexander Mcqueen, similarly, saw past clothing’s restraints. He blurrend the line between fashion and artistic expression with his unconventional and trend-setting ideas, like his use of corroded fabrics. Mcqueen once stated: “I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.”
Nowadays, several influential celebrities continue to disrupt gender norms within the realm of fashion. Most notably, Harry Styles and Lil Nas X have defied toxic masculinity by partaking in the movement of men wearing dresses. However, it’s expected that with a little disruption comes a lot of controversy. After Harry’s Gucci dress moment debuted on the cover of Vogue, many people took to Twitter to bemoan the death of masculinity as they called on society to bring back “manly men”. Others criticized Harry, claiming that he was undeserving of the cover. These users believed that by wearing a dress, Harry took something away from from anyone who wasn’t already white, cis, and straight. Other celebrities like Timothee Chalamet and Jacob Elordi have adopted a metrosexual fashion style on and off-screen. Aside from taking on vulnerable acting roles such as in Call Me By Your Name and Little Women, Chalamet has made use of brightly colored suits, floral prints, backless pieces, satin, leather, and dainty gold jewelry. By wearing stereotypically feminine pieces, these men are playing an important role in shaping society and challenging the idea of toxic masculinity.
Celebrities and influencers continue as trailblazers in gender-free fashion. Lil Nas X, Cole Sprouse, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, and Beyonce (with her Adidas X Ivy Park gender-fluid line), just to name a few, are at the forefront of gender-fluid fashion, unencumbered by restrictions in the industry. 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%, said they primarily wore clothes designed for women…”(Velasquez & Velasquez, 2021). For some fashion houses, namely the fashion house of Gucci, agender fashion has been recurring. Alessandro Michele’s Gucci collections have continued to blur gender lines; the label’s runway shows display 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 gender neutral options. Even large mainstream lines are including gender-inclusive lines. In 2018, Abercrombie & Fitch created a gender-inclusive line called the "Everybody Collection” which featured an assortment of items with different colors and graphics that was not created with one specific gender in mind. As celebrities and other influential people continue to push past gender barriers, more and more big name brands will follow in their footsteps, making gender fluidity the fashion industry’s next big thing.