What Will Genderless Fashion Change?

Why did the fashion industry, one of the biggest advocates of gender norms, suddenly abandon this attitude?

Lacoste, 2019

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest fashion trends of recent times is genderless fashion. Genderless fashion, which is currently fed by a social movement, appears to be an activist fashion attitude rather than a fashion trend. What happened to the billion-dollar fashion industry, one of the biggest advocates of gender norms, who for centuries glorified the word masculine, whisper the word feminine in fear? Until yesterday, while emphasizing the masculine attitude as a strong message for all genders, when has this industry been so activist, which characterizes the feminine attitude as a “female-only” vulnerability? Let’s examine it together.

Karolina Kurkova & Andrej Prejic, Jean Paul Gaultier, 2011

The concept of “gender”, which was put forward to define sex roles in the 1950s, was actually a theory put forward by academics to question the place of women actively involved in industrial life in the society after World War II. Women who played an active role in business life were questioning their roles in society, and movements such as feminism gained momentum with the effect of industrialization. The LGBT+ movement, which gained strength in the 60s and after, did not hesitate to question the concept of gender. The post-war years, when the fashion world began to industrialize, fed this trend, which was called unisex clothing at that time. According to Mark Tungate, women who started to speak in business life needed professional clothes that they could wear both in plazas and factories. This need created some parts that the genders can use in common. So much so that the unisex fashion trend, born with pieces such as suits, jeans and sneakers, found its place as a genderless fashion in 2020. The International Textile Design Congress held in Portugal in 2018 defined genderless fashion as “the ability of different genders to wear textile products defined as specific to men or women at the same time, without being bound by any gender”.

ZARA, 2016

As someone who has been doing research on fashion at an academic level since 2018, I can easily say that the fashion world will never consider your well-being. If we reduce the fashion world to even more specific, the biggest aim of fashion brands is to increase their profit margins and also to create a consumer group dependent on their brands. Social mobility, which has gained strength with the use of social media as a medium for activism, is being used in its favor by the fashion industry, which is trying to turn this social change into benefit. Until yesterday, the industry, which emphasized the word masculine in its collections with a “strong and charismatic” message on both men and women, emphasized the word feminine as “delicate and fragile” only on the female side. The assertive and strong lines that stood out in masculine collections gave way to soft and pastel themes in feminine collections. According to Inside Retail, genderless fashion, which is trying to be adapted quickly by global ready-to-wear brands, is a fast consumption form of the rapidly increasing social consciousness on the Z Generation side.

Harry Styles, Gucci, Met Gala 2019

With the influence of South Korea and Japan, who have had a serious role in fashion trends for the last 10 years, the genderless fashion trend that has rapidly surrounded the world, in my opinion, is actually a very late fashion movement. The fashion industry, which advises the consumer whom he describes as a woman, to wear a skirt, and the consumer whom he describes as a man, to wear trousers, reinforces the foundations of heteronormative propaganda in a capitalist cycle. Although it is aimed to create social visibility by alternative designers, genderless fashion is used by global fashion brands as a nice profit tool. It seems that the industry, which advised you to wear pieces that you seem to be “right” in, rather than the pieces you felt happy about, will continue to be questioned at the point where the industry cares about genderless fashion, more precisely the increasing awareness of gender.

Dior, 2020

What is genderless fashion changing today or will it change tomorrow? It is difficult to clarify the answer to this question, especially in the economic environment the fashion world is in today. However it is useful to know that. With a higher consciousness than their parents, Generation Z, which can bravely step out of their comfort zones, seems to continue with the brands that they think value their own values. The genderless fashion, which we know to have a large share in these values, aims to say that I am here without being judged and stereotyped. It is obvious that the new consumer, who insists on this attitude, will not continue with brands that try to impose gender stereotypes on him.