08 January 2019

No gender: fashion that embraces the individual instead of sexual gender. The global trend towards non-binary gender identity drives fashion towards a syncretistic and eclectic style, where the individual is free to dress as he or she prefers, without limits imposed by gender stereotypes. 

Gender fluid is an expression that indicates non-binary gender, i.e. the identity of an individual who does not identify with one of the two sexes. It does not necessarily have to do with being heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or other but represents the deliberate choice to transcend all gender differences, distinctions and classifications. The agender individual is undefined and changes sexual gender “fluidly”, depending on his or her desires and inclinations. Today, a man, tomorrow perhaps a woman, the agender refuses to feel classified into a specific sexual gender. 

A gender without gender, a form without form. I feel neither man nor woman, or probably I think both. 

It is a trend that stems mainly from the artsy and queer  scene in San Francisco and does not represent a rebellion against biology but rather against the limits imposed by history. 

Over time, the concept of gender has been used to define and limit people, inside and out, from self-perception to family ties from behaviour patterns to interpersonal relationships. 

Now established as a global movement in terms of a macro-trend in the fashion industry, “no gender” represents the affirmation of genderlessness, where the focus is on the individual who should be able to dress as he or she prefers without the limitations imposed by stereotypes. 

No gender is not to be confused with “unisex” clothing, which originated instead from a concept developed in the 1960s and 1970s following women’s emancipation and anti-bourgeois rebellions, which saw the sharing of clothing as a way of finding a point of union between the two sexes. 

Regarding developments related to this trend, perhaps the best interpretation has been that of Alessandro Michele for Gucci, through a style that proposes a syncretistic and eclectic fashion made up of contaminations and aesthetic extremes. Of course, he is not the only one, as Telfar, Eckhaus Latta, Vaquera and Art School London, for example, also show for the coming seasons. 

Application to a specific case 

In 2015, the British department store chain Selfridges launched the “Agender Project”, an initiative that lasted a couple of months, during which two floors of the London store were allocated to collections accessible to both men and women. The aim was for everyone to feel free to shop according to their individuality rather than gender. 

Later, in 2017, we saw the “Gender Neutral” initiative dedicated to younger children, and also in London, the owner of the famous department store chain John Lewis ruled that all clothing for children and boys up to the age of 14 should no longer have different labels according to gender, but the unambiguous Boys&Girls and Girls&Boys. 

Last but not least, scheduled for January 2019 is the introduction of “Gender X”, which will be indicated on the birth certificate of newborns in the state of New York. The reform, decreed by a large majority of the City Council, thus provides a third choice for those who, in adulthood, will feel neither male nor female, or simply do not want to define themselves. 

How will this affect the industry? 

According to some research and industry studies, there is an increase in teenage purchases, so it seems that girls and boys belonging to Generation Z (i.e. those born between 1995 and 2010) are feeling squeezed within the boundaries of gender distinctions. The fluid society is the new socio-cultural direction of Generation Z. 

Photo: HP Mars Home Planet 

Alessandra Lanna 

Alessandra Lanna studied Jewellery Design at IED Roma and specialised in Fashion Trend Forecasting at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London. In 2000, she moved to New York, where she worked for several years. In Europe, she collaborated on industry trend books. She was later called in as creative director of a young Italian leather accessories brand, which led her to travel between Italy and China for about seven years. She created Mia Inspirational Trend View and Mia Le Journal magazine. She holds seminars on new fashion trends for Wella and designs and makes exclusive jewellery for a luxury clientele in Shanghai. 

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