Fashion has long been a powerful form of self-expression, allowing individuals to showcase their unique personalities, styles, and identities. Fashion icons such as Harry Styles prove that we don’t have to slot into a particular mould or be defined by a particular gender.
Nowadays, terms like gender diverse and gender-fluid contribute to a more diverse and inclusive vibe, blurring the old lines of gender-based fashion.
What is gender-inclusive fashion?
Fashion tends to throw around the two segregated ideas that there's clothes for men and there's clothes for women. Think about online shops, fashion weeks, retail floors, modeling in which men's and womenswear are separated. Nick Paget, senior analyst at World Global Style Network says
”The notion that clothing as an expression of our personality belongs to one gender or another is the social construct that needs disassembling.”
Genderless fashion is more than just designing clothes that both men and women can wear.
Looking back at fashion trends from the past few years, women have borrowed (or stolen) some styles from the other side of the wardrobe: Oversized blazers, shirts or slouchy ‘boyfriend’ jeans. However, when these roles were reversed, and men ventured into wearing skirts or dresses, it was often met with outrage and viewed as a "departure" from masculinity.
Gender Inclusion in Fashion means more than ‘Putting a Dress on a Boy’
Gender inclusion is about transcending traditional norms -it challenges the conventional idea that clothing should be strictly categorized as "male" or "female." Instead, gender-inclusive fashion aims to create a space where individuals can dress in a way that aligns with their personal sense of style and identity, regardless of societal expectations or gender stereotypes.
By breaking away from rigid gender norms, gender-inclusive fashion challenges the limitations placed on people's self-expression.
It encourages inclusivity, openness, and acceptance, creating a more diverse and tolerant society.
And most importantly, it promotes equality. It challenges the notion that certain clothing styles or fashion trends are exclusively reserved for one gender, promoting a more egalitarian mindset and breaking down barriers of discrimination.
The AF team loved seeing all the gender-less street styles at AAFW23. Get inspired by the celebs iconic street styles from Australian Fashion Week here.
Harry Styles, the face of gender-inclusive fashion
Harry Styles actually marked a moment of history with his US Vogue cover in 2020. Not only was he the first solo male cover in the magazine's history, but his fit - a ballgown Gucci dress and tuxedo jacket - challenged gender stereotypes in fashion.
In an interview, the singer said the “lines” of what you should wear based on your gender were crumbling away. “When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ you will open up the arena in which you can play”.
“I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing. It’s like anything – anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself.” ~Harry Styles
And after there's been an initial controversy as critics claim to "bring back manly men”, Harry Styles has proved more than once that he's the best male-dressed musician!
Styles has seriously lived up to his surname for years on end.
Have a look at Style's most iconic looks so far:
In a nutshell
Fashion should be a means of self-expression and a source of enjoyment. Rather than conforming to external dictates, fashion should be a reflection of everyone's individuality and a platform for showcasing our personal style and creativity.
By breaking away from traditional gender norms, fashion brands are creating a more inclusive and accepting society. Discover Australia's best fashion brands that do gender-neutral fashion here.
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Contributor: Patricia Pira