Beyond gender

all editorials

Beyond gender

With unisex collections and masculine/feminine inspirations, fashion brands are busy blurring gender boundaries. They’re also meeting a growing demand, especially from younger people, to concentrate on clothing and go beyond preconceived guidelines or stereotypes, whatever they may be.

What’s essential is being somebody who can hike, stay warm, run, pedal, and dance as they please and with complete freedom.

For the past few seasons, the unisex trend has clearly been gaining ground. Even more important is the question of how gender and traditional masculine and feminine representations are being challenged everywhere. The fashion industry is in a front row position to manifest this fantastic social revolution. On numerous catwalks, male and female models mix casually together, and nobody comments on the explosion of such longstanding categories. On the red carpets, singer Harry Styles and actor Timothée Chalamet, just two of many skirt-wearing fans, are the faces of this change. But it’s worth noting that women didn’t need to wait until 2023 to take possession of the opposite sex’s codes. Think about Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s or Yves Saint Laurent’s pantsuits, disruptive at the time. Today issues about sexual, gender, and identity fluidity have become part of everyone’s wardrobe and are helping reinvent them.

In fact, several ready-to-wear labels have pledged allegiance to the movement dedicated to the breakdown of restrictions and designations. Since DADA/Diane Ducasse began, the designer has found inspiration in men’s suits which she interprets in surprising colours. De Bonne Facture is unabashedly influenced by the iconic pieces in a man’s wardrobe to produce timeless clothing. At Habile, the offer is definitely unisex. And what can be said about the brands which have always nurtured a practical attitude and made functional clothing, like the kind sailors wear? That’s the case with Saint James, Le Mont St Michel, and Mat de Misaine. Striped sailor T shirts, pea coats, and fisherman’s smocks didn’t wait for an invitation from the trends to express this quite modern neutrality.

Within this contemporary movement, fashion, of course, reflects the deep aspirations of the young generations – the millennials and especially the subsequent Gen Zers – who are redefining practices and conventions. For anthropologist Elisabeth Soulié, author of the essay “La Génération Z aux Rayons X” (Editions du Cerf), “It’s a generation that operates with ‘and’ not ‘or'”. So taking a segmented approach that excludes or showing support by renouncing something else is now out of the question. Bénédicte Fabien, an expert in brand strategy and trends, also observes, among other considerations, a second-hand effect. She explains, “In second-hand stores, which are very popular with young people, traditional categories are often obsolete. They go to find a jacket, a shirt, or baggy pants … they don’t target the men’s or women’s department. And that influences how clothing is bought.”

And finally, will clothes’ function become more important than all the other considerations? 

Comfort and practicality are currently some of consumers’ main concerns. The rise of the gorpcore trend expressed just that; it was a look made with fleece, parkas, combat pants, and hiking shoes, and it’s the ultimate in cool for 2023! In this context, gender questions are almost not worth discussing. What’s essential is being somebody who can hike, stay warm, run, pedal, and dance as they please and with complete freedom.

+ Bénédicte Fabien, brand strategy and trend expert, explains the phenomenon. 

“The unisex trend is championed by the young generation. It’s part of the larger sportswear movement, which is very powerful, and also of the workwear trend, which has put utility clothing into fashion-focused wardrobes. In both cases, we see the idea of a certain neutrality. Streetwear and workwear are both made to be comfortable, loose-fitting, and easy to move in. For emerging brands, genderless clothing can also help them concentrate on tighter collections that are easier to produce, and so are more environmentally responsible. Still, the reality of business is not always in sync with trends, and it’s often difficult to completely ignore masculine and feminine starting points.”

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© DA/DA Diane Ducasse

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© Le Mont St Michel

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© Saint James

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© Habile

all editorials

Beyond gender

With unisex collections and masculine/feminine inspirations, fashion brands are busy blurring gender boundaries. They’re also meeting a growing demand, especially from younger people, to concentrate on clothing and go beyond preconceived guidelines or stereotypes, whatever they may be.

What’s essential is being somebody who can hike, stay warm, run, pedal, and dance as they please and with complete freedom.

For the past few seasons, the unisex trend has clearly been gaining ground. Even more important is the question of how gender and traditional masculine and feminine representations are being challenged everywhere. The fashion industry is in a front row position to manifest this fantastic social revolution. On numerous catwalks, male and female models mix casually together, and nobody comments on the explosion of such longstanding categories. On the red carpets, singer Harry Styles and actor Timothée Chalamet, just two of many skirt-wearing fans, are the faces of this change. But it’s worth noting that women didn’t need to wait until 2023 to take possession of the opposite sex’s codes. Think about Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s or Yves Saint Laurent’s pantsuits, disruptive at the time. Today issues about sexual, gender, and identity fluidity have become part of everyone’s wardrobe and are helping reinvent them.

In fact, several ready-to-wear labels have pledged allegiance to the movement dedicated to the breakdown of restrictions and designations. Since DADA/Diane Ducasse began, the designer has found inspiration in men’s suits which she interprets in surprising colours. De Bonne Facture is unabashedly influenced by the iconic pieces in a man’s wardrobe to produce timeless clothing. At Habile, the offer is definitely unisex. And what can be said about the brands which have always nurtured a practical attitude and made functional clothing, like the kind sailors wear? That’s the case with Saint James, Le Mont St Michel, and Mat de Misaine. Striped sailor T shirts, pea coats, and fisherman’s smocks didn’t wait for an invitation from the trends to express this quite modern neutrality.

Within this contemporary movement, fashion, of course, reflects the deep aspirations of the young generations – the millennials and especially the subsequent Gen Zers – who are redefining practices and conventions. For anthropologist Elisabeth Soulié, author of the essay “La Génération Z aux Rayons X” (Editions du Cerf), “It’s a generation that operates with ‘and’ not ‘or'”. So taking a segmented approach that excludes or showing support by renouncing something else is now out of the question. Bénédicte Fabien, an expert in brand strategy and trends, also observes, among other considerations, a second-hand effect. She explains, “In second-hand stores, which are very popular with young people, traditional categories are often obsolete. They go to find a jacket, a shirt, or baggy pants … they don’t target the men’s or women’s department. And that influences how clothing is bought.”

And finally, will clothes’ function become more important than all the other considerations? 

Comfort and practicality are currently some of consumers’ main concerns. The rise of the gorpcore trend expressed just that; it was a look made with fleece, parkas, combat pants, and hiking shoes, and it’s the ultimate in cool for 2023! In this context, gender questions are almost not worth discussing. What’s essential is being somebody who can hike, stay warm, run, pedal, and dance as they please and with complete freedom.

+ Bénédicte Fabien, brand strategy and trend expert, explains the phenomenon. 

“The unisex trend is championed by the young generation. It’s part of the larger sportswear movement, which is very powerful, and also of the workwear trend, which has put utility clothing into fashion-focused wardrobes. In both cases, we see the idea of a certain neutrality. Streetwear and workwear are both made to be comfortable, loose-fitting, and easy to move in. For emerging brands, genderless clothing can also help them concentrate on tighter collections that are easier to produce, and so are more environmentally responsible. Still, the reality of business is not always in sync with trends, and it’s often difficult to completely ignore masculine and feminine starting points.”

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