Op-Ed: Rise in Gender Fluid Clothing

Since 2019 there has been an increase in gender-fluid clothing. This is not a specific style or trend but rather a recognition that clothing does not have to belong to one gender or another. This is a social construct that the fashion world became comfortable with, but not anymore. In 2019, 56 percent of Gen Z consumers shopped outside of their “gender area,” 41 percent of Gen Z answered neutral on the gender spectrum, and over half answered something other than heterosexual. This shows that the upcoming generation is ready to break norms, customs, and standards. The fashion industry has realized that dressing is a way to express oneself, and it should be purely self-constructed. Therefore, retailers like Zara and H&M have launched genderless clothing lines. While they did receive some backlash, there will always be critics, and it is clear the trends are headed toward more fluid options for everyone. 

Simply put, gender-fluid fashion is not limited to menswear or womenswear. For example, there is a disregard for the association between men and pants and women and skirts. It doesn’t have to do with the brand or style or clothing; it is more about the article of clothing being gender fluid if the wearer chooses. Many people just want to be comfortable in what they are wearing, and that means not every girl wants to wear skirts, and some boys want to. Another brand that supports the cause is TomboyX. This brand is purely gender-neutral clothing that focuses more on comfort, size, fit, and material; their main product is gender-neutral underwear. This is not a trend, and it is not anything new for many people. People have been shopping in both men’s and women’s sections throughout history; there is just more representation and acceptance towards it now.  

A great example of this is Harry Styles, who has been blurring the line between what is deemed masculine and feminine. Retailers and brands should see the rise of gender-fluid clothing as an opportunity to reach a huge market. There is development within this fashion movement; last fall, Marc Jacobs launched a polysexual capsule collection called “Heaven,” which the designer described as a clothing line for “girls who are boys and boys who are girls [and] those who are neither.” Stella McCartney recently started selling a genderless and sustainable apparel line called “Shared,” taking cues from streetwear. Also, last year, Gucci debuted a gender-fluid section on its website called “MX,” using only models who identify as nonbinary in its marketing. London Fashion Week has also taken gender labels out of its shows. Our world has constructed us to gender things instead of just seeing them for what they are. Rob Smith, the founder of the Phluid Project, has a gender-free fashion brand. He stated, “A dress is a dress, a skirt’s a skirt, a jacket’s a jacket, lipstick is lipstick… The objective of the Phluid Project is to allow folks to express themselves in the way that they feel comfortable — the way that feels authentic to them”, and that is what fashion should be about. Many in the fashion industry realize this will be a long and gradual shift for older generations but are also trying to give representation to the younger generation. 

Influencers on social media, especially TikTok, are also playing a key role in driving discourse around new fashion trends and representing gender-fluid brands. The gender-neutral conversation is still relatively new for the larger portion of the population, and not everyone is accepting and understanding. However, the fashion industry is showing immense support for the gender-fluid community. Gen Z advocates for breaking barriers and bringing acceptance; this is not only a huge movement in fashion but also a breath of fresh air for many people.

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