Creating Fashion Without Limits
by Esen Elmaz
As androgynous fashion becomes a common area of discussion in the fashion industry, FTS takes a look at designers who celebrate the freedom of genderless fashion.
As a society, we have very specific ways in which we identify ourselves as women and men - represented through the clothes we wear, a system that can at times be rather limiting. Androgynous fashion should be celebrated for the sense of freedom it provides, encouraging us to embrace what we like regardless of what chromosome we belong too. Androgynous designers create looks that do not always fall into culturally recognised categories, because as designer Spencer Badu puts it, “there are no rules” when it comes to fashion and identity. Designers and celebrities today such as Jaden Smith and Cara Delevingne are influencing the way we view gender, blurring the boundaries between masculine and feminine fashion. Not only is this a healthy step towards a post-feminist future, but has also created some beautiful and audacious outfits that have recently ruled the runway, looks and designs boundless to gender.
This innovative approach to fashion has included pieces from menswear that has integrated men into fashion week, a tradition which has previously only been targeted at women. One designer that has embraced the concept of gender neutrality this summer is the talented Nicola Formichetti who toys with gender boundaries and embraces the world of gender-neutral fashion. In an interview Formichetti stated, “Feminine clothing can be beautiful on a girl or a boy, you can be a masculine guy and wear a lot of ribbons”. Formichetti includes pink parkas, cut out hoodies, and rose printed t-shirts included in his summer collection. He has proposed that “fashion can be narrow minded”, and although colours and patterns that were once disregarded as ‘unmanly’ have become neutral choices in fashion, judgment can still be imposed on people experimenting with masculinity and femininity. Formichetti’s approach attempts to lift restrictions many men face with being able to openly explore femininity, restrictions that women also face, for example, the rare occurrence of a woman wearing a suit. Queer fashion designer Leon Wu dedicated his brand Sharp Suiting to appeal to people who are androgynous and encourage people that it is acceptable to wear clothes in both women and men’s wear, regardless of your gender.
Spencer Badu, another big name involving androgynous fashion wants to express the importance of feeling comfortable in the clothes we’re in. He states, “I try to appeal to people that also wouldn’t consider wearing a unisex piece, that also wouldn’t consider throwing on a cropped jacket because they’re kind of afraid”. Badu emphasis on designing garments that all people would feel comfortable wearing is important, it helps to eliminate the fear involved with wearing a piece that isn’t claimed gender appropriate by most of society, especially in relevance to men. Badu’s view of androgynous fashion coincides with queer fashion designer Leon Wu who states, “Everyone should be equal”. Although, certain popular high-street brands such as Zara have disappointed customers with their launch of their anticlimactic unisex line, consisting of basic jeans, t-shirts, joggers and sweatpants which are usually already considered gender neutral.
In contrast, London’s Selfridges has gained positive feedback for their pop up shops “Agender” launch, successfully creating a space where both men and women can shop, yet focuses more on your individuality rather than your gender. Too Good London is one of the brands sold in store, providing a broad range of garments suitable for all genders and emphasises the importance of being able to express your identity outside of socially engrained gender norms. Too Good’s 2017 spring/summer collection focused on oversized dresses, pinafores and overalls, bold patterned suits, blazers and jackets. The colours and patterns created in this collection were mainly red, white and black, creating very bold, sharp and quirky outfits that include both masculine and feminine elements.