A decade ago, the term gender-fluidity did not exist. Today, it’s one of the most important buzzwords in the fashion industry that’s often associated with diversity and inclusivity.
A person identifying as gender-fluid is someone who chooses to have a non-binary identity. That means their identity isn’t fixed to either male or female and may change over time.
Simply put, gender-fluid fashion is clothing that rejects typical gender norms of design. It blurs the division between men’s wear and women’s wear, allowing individuals to play with different styles and modes of expression.
Gender-fluid fashion has made its way into runways and designer look books. It has been seen on both high-fashion and mainstream brands. For shoppers, gender-fluid clothes empower them to explore and embrace their sexuality.
A gender-fluid market
Gender-fluid clothing is not an entirely novel idea. Women have been wearing men’s wear or men’s wear-inspired garments for quite a long time now. We’ve seen signs of it in women’s shooting clothes or work trousers, among others; the difference is, these garments are designed for function, not style or identity.
That said, the present market for gender-fluid clothing has seen rapid growth, with Gen Z consumers leading the pack. Gen Z, also known as the post-millennial generation, is made up of people born between the mid-90s and the early 2010s. Raised in the advent of smartphones and social media, Gen Z is making strides towards rejecting outdated gender constructs across all industries and aspects of life.
Research shows that 56% of Gen Z consumers shop outside of their assigned gendered area. They also boast an estimated $143 billion worth of spending power. That said, it’s no surprise how fashion brands have been increasingly eager to make room for gender fluidity in their collections.
The role of high fashion
In the past few years, the world’s leading fashion brands, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Vivienne Westwood, have held runway shows with women wearing pieces from the men’s collection and vice versa. Similarly, brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, and JW Anderson have begun staging their men’s and women’s collections together as one catwalk show. In 2018 New York Fashion Week, Calvin Klein’s spring collection delighted Gen Z with its minimalist and slightly androgynous themes.
As more high fashion companies embrace gender-fluid clothing, we see shifts not only in clothing styles but also in runway representation. Brands have started to cast androgynous, trans, and gender non-conforming models to stay faithful to their message of diversity and acceptance.
More than just a trend
For gender fluidity to thrive in the fashion industry, retailers need to stop looking at it as a mere promotional stunt. Supporting the non-binary movement is more than just building campaigns and collections to attract a young client base or appear to be progressive and trendy. Instead, brands need to look at gender fluidity as a critical tool in eliminating gender discrimination.
As fashion continues to evolve, brands and shoppers alike need to stay educated and open-minded towards new ways of thinking. After all, fashion, in its truest sense, is less about looking good and more about self-expression and empowerment.