The world laughed and merely accepted Bowie’s exploration of genderless fashion in the 70’s as a quirk of personality. It’s 2016 and we are still sadly facing a lack of gender neutrality and acceptance within fashion and society on a large scale.
Image by Sophie Ellen, Styling by Annie Hertikova for Bricks Magazine Vol.4
Undoubtedly, the fight for gender equality is everywhere; with multiple films including transgender characters (although most didn’t unfortunately employ transgender actors), celebrities such as Laverne Cox highlighting LGBTQIA issues and designers such as Louis Vuitton casting Jaden Smith in their ‘womenswear’ campaign. Despite these changing attitudes towards gender and clothing, is it really feeding into mainstream fashion? Or do we still have a long wait to see clothing as gender-neutral as we believe it should be?
The idea of ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ collections are becoming increasingly outdated, with collections still being shown separately and on completely different schedules. In an interview with The New York Times in October 1983, legendary Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto stated;
“my men’s clothes look as good on women as my women’s clothing […] When I started designing, I wanted to make men’s clothes for women…when I started making clothes for my line ‘Y’s’ in 1977, all I wanted was for women to wear men’s clothes.”
40 years on - we’ve made little progress. While women can now shop at ease in the men’s section, men still seem significantly more restrained when it comes to dressing for their gender.
Zara’s recent endeavor to create a gender-neutral clothing line fell flat, with many critics condemning the work as ‘simply putting baggy hoodies on women’. It does raise the question, however, of whether we are simply overthinking. The most effective seemed to be taking a much straightforward approach – simply including a variety of genders in fashion shows, such as Claire Barrow’s collection being displayed on both men and women.
Any medium can be used as a political tool and the industry is slowly, yet surly trying to move forward by removing gender expectations and constraints. Old habits die hard, but with the right media and campaigns we could look forward to gender fluid future very soon.