The growth of genderless and unisex fashion brands is a sign of the times that the constructs of who-wears-what is evolving. Gen Z especially has embraced wearing clothing they feel comfortable in rather than what has been designated to them based on their sex. Constructs of masculinity and femininity are shifting, blurring the lines between traditional men’s and women’s wear.
Retailers have some catching up to do when it comes to gender neutral fashion, with physical stores often segregating men’s and women’s clothing on different floors and merchandising separate departments. For buyers, navigating the right balance between what is commercial and directional can be daunting. Where some designers are boldly testing the boundaries between traditional masculine and feminine codes to inspire conversations about gender equality, they may perhaps have less impact on bottom line sales.
According to Lyst, the success of Gucci’s genderless shopping section “Gucci MX”, Converse’s genderless line SHAPES and Beyoncé’s Ivy Park x Adidas gender neutral pieces from 2020, genderless shopping will gain greater momentum throughout 2021. Since October the amount of new products available online with the label “unisex” has more than doubled over last year.
Here we suggest five brands to watch:
Ijji is a genderless clothing label founded in California in 2016 with a Japanese sensibility in its sourcing. The company focuses on natural fibers, beautiful colours and interesting silhouettes, like its twill plaid trousers and silk shirting. The name Ijji comes from a Japanese word meaning any loose fitting drawstring pant. The collections are unisex and offer inclusive sizing.
British brand Cold Laundry was founded in 2019 by husband and wife designers Ola and Cerise Alabi. The brand offers a staple wardrobe for men and women focused on minimalist styling, of which the unisex puffer jacket is a stand-out item. “Our pieces are heavily inspired by Korean fashion; clean, minimal looks with our twist on colors and cuts and shapes as well, so it derives from that sort of drop shoulder, oversized, boxy fit,” Alabi told High Snobiety.
Creatively helmed by Australia-based husband and wife team Larz Harry and Aida Kim, Man-tle’s collections are not specifically gender neutral, but many pieces, like their workwear categories, have both men’s and women’s sizing. As a brand, Man-tle is a group of products focused on durability, reliability, and practicality set against the backdrop of the rugged Australian landscape. Rather than focusing on a specific sex, the garments have an egalitarian sensibility and adapt with each wearer to their evolving terrain.
Embracing both unisex and sustainability, Olderbrother is a conscious apparel company focused on keeping clothing natural. From the cultivation of their unique dyes to their attention to detail when it comes to sustainable materials, the brand is a one-of-a-kind ethical fashion shop. The Portland, Oregon-based company believes in supporting ‘self-definition’ and creating garments which can be worn by any body.
Launched exclusively on ASOS in 2018, Collusion is a Gen Z brand for the coming of age, focusing on inclusivity, collaboration and experimental fashion. The ethos of the brand is to create clothing for all bodies that everyone “can see themselves wearing.” The use of collaborators within the brand allows for different point of views to contribute, well catering to ASOS’ young and diverse audience.
Images: courtesy of Asos, Collusion, and Ijji