Genderless design has been gaining ground in the fashion world, and fast. We’ve seen the androgyny trends of the 1990s, but genderless design has emerged as a formative, long-lasting influence on fashion in the 21st-century.
And it’s an exciting development to watch. The clothes we put on each morning are one of the most impactful and communicative ways we express ourselves; it says everything about who we are and what we stand for. The popularity of genderless design shows a shift towards a more thoughtful and purposeful approach to fashion among designers and customers alike.
There’s a clear connection between genderless styles and our movement towards a less gendered society. With the continued rise of feminism, trans rights, and freer ways of thinking, people are looking for clothes that embrace both feminine and masculine qualities and design. Consumers are opting for clothes that reflect who they are, not the gender they identify as. The spread of genderless and unisex fashion helps break down the divisions, gender expectations, and categories that have previously created prejudice and hierarchies in society.
Yet genderless design is so much more than a way people choose to reject gender norms and stereotypes. It’s part of a global shift towards creating a more sustainable, functional, and purposeful lifestyle for ourselves.
Genderless Fashion and Sustainability
The idea of genderless fashion disrupts the global supply chain as much as it disrupts gender stereotypes and boundaries. With simplified silhouettes and construction, the styles and products within the genderless fashion movement will streamline the production and flow of goods. In turn, they generate less environmental pollution. With fewer variations and a growing number of sustainable, sophisticated materials used, genderless and unisex fashion has the potential to be less taxing on the planet. With over 25% of the material in the fashion industry going to waste, it’s about time design catered to efficiency and sustainability.
Genderless clothing aligns with a broader movement towards a more sustainable, minimalist, and functional way of living. The start of the 21st century has brought a more minimalist sensibility, and, for the first time in decades, Americans are realizing that there might be such a thing as too much stuff. Marie Kondo, for example, made waves in American culture as she tidied homes and lives with her question: does it spark joy?
It’s a fair question. Do the things we own bring joy, fulfill a function, and add something valuable to our emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing? The movement towards genderless clothing is rooted in the same purposeful questions. Are the clothes and products we choose to wear functional? Do they bring us joy? Are they indicative of who we are and what we value?
From Couture to Casual Wear: Genderless Fashion in Our World
The movement towards genderless styles and design has been building steadily for years in both couture and everyday brands. Men’s and women’s runway shows are combining left and right, and, instead of androgyny, we see traditionally feminine and masculine motifs move easily from one couture line to the other.
And there are plenty of high-profile artists, musicians, and celebrities that have joined the genderless fashion movement. Harry Styles, for example, wears women’s suits, carries genderless handbags, and dons pearl necklaces in the public sphere. Jaden Smith, similarly, has dissolved gender binaries and fashion boundaries by embracing skirts and dresses. Billie Porter and Billie Eilish are among the ranks of famous creatives that have pushed genderless designs into the spotlight.
Perhaps, in part, because of that, genderless trends have seeped quickly and easily into casual wear. We’ve seen the return of fanny packs, cross body bags, chunky sneakers, and dress shoes for all genders. Mainstream brands have moved into genderless and unisex styles, including Zara, H&M, and Uniqlo. Other smaller brands are centered in developing and selling genderless designs and have found tremendous success: the Phluid Project, Re-inc, Fini Shoes, Older Brother, and Riley Studio are just a few examples of progressive clothing and accessory brands pushing the boundaries of gender expression and understanding. More importantly, they’re the tools, products, and ideas non-binary and gender fluid people need to express themselves readily available in our marketplace.
Genderless fashion has many social, cultural, and political connotations packed into its development and design. It’s unique in that it expands across so many global concerns, and its connections to so many pressing issues, like sustainability, gender constructs, and elevates it from a fad to a future norm.