In a business that can change so rapidly and so frequently, menswear and womenswear have their own distinct trends to keep up with the pace. However, on occasion these trends merge together and in recent times there has been a rise in the number of gender neutral collections being produced by brands.
This has culminated in high-end department chain Selfridges’ Oxford Street store launching 5 unisex collections across three floors, with the clothes not being aimed at any specific gender but wearable by both. They have recognised that their shoppers are wanting less and less to be limited by their gender stereotypes in terms of what pieces they’re expected to shop and so, by uniting both genders under the same, non-defined section, the London store is making individual self-expression a lot more accessible.
“The constructs of fashion are redefined with each passing season of designs and this year could finally see the removal of stigmas attached to wearing clothes perceived to just be for the opposite gender”
Additionally, popular brands such as the unisex Boy London have long been worn by both genders, having been made even more popular by their famous fans, such as Rihanna. Androgyny is not a new style by any means, with masculine characteristics of clothing being mixed with the feminine for a long time – think Grace Jones’ sharp black suits and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust playsuit.
Although it could be argued that the surge in women shopping menswear, looking for looser fitting clothing and sharply tailored pieces, is bigger than the alternative, there has also been a surge in designs for menswear incorporating more typically feminine structures. KTZ, for example, in their Spring-Summer 15 menswear show unveiled an Ancient Greece inspired collection featuring pleated skirts and long line tops, putting out the message that these clothing styles are not exclusive to women.
The constructs of fashion are redefined with each passing season of designs and this year could finally see the removal of stigmas attached to wearing clothes perceived to just be for the opposite gender, allowing everyone to feel able to dress themselves exactly how they please.
“Their shoppers are wanting less and less to be limited by their gender stereotypes in terms of what pieces they’re expected to shop”
As well as clothing, Selfridges plan to have similarly gender-neutral sections for beauty products and accessories. It has long been acceptable for women to alter their natural features using make up and products, but not so for men and they should be entitled to feel free to do the same, whether that is to help their insecurities or simply because they would like to. By removing the distinction between male and female beauty products, Selfridges will be giving men the opportunity to buy free from any judgements they may expect to receive. I know males who wear concealer but would not feel okay about admitting this to their male friends, or female for that matter, but if I’m allowed to artificially improve how I look then why can’t he? This is a very optimistic move from Selfridge’s and they will hopefully help promote further progress into allowing people to express themselves via their clothing choices in their own way, and not how our judgemental society tells them to.
Tessa Jones for The Courier, 9th February 2015