Borrowing a boyfriend’s hoodie or stealing a vintage-style tee from your dad’s wardrobe are not new or unusual phenomena. However, the current trend for androgynous fashion means that women and men everywhere are taking less and less notice of who their clothing was designed for – no matter the designated gender!
This idea is something that once would have invited ridicule and mockery. Just look at the Fall 2013 J.W.Anderson Menswear Collection, which saw the likes of frilled skirts and bandeau-style tops being worn down the runway by male models. Despite being celebrated by many in the fashion industry, much of the public was shocked by the collection, with publications as The Daily Mail suggesting it was humiliating for the models to be seen in this stereotypically-feminine clothing.
From a more pop-culture perspective, the traditional portrayal of gender-fluid dressers in films and the media also highlights these negative attitudes. Although iconic, Janis Ian’s purple tuxedo immediately had people assuming she was a lesbian; the idea that a woman would want to be seen in a manly, unfitted outfit seemed foreign to many and – just as in Mean Girls – frequently results in much condemnation towards an individual. This showcases perfectly how clothing can often lead to unfounded assumptions about a person’s gender, as well as their sexuality.
Frequently, however, the line between gendered clothing is becoming more blurred. Slowly easing us in, we had the oversized, baggy silhouettes from brands, such as Vetements, Yeezy and Off-White. Then, shaking up the male fashion industry, came the introduction of more stereotypically-feminine materials, patterns and colourways. With fans, such as Harry Styles (who wore a floral Gucci suit to the 2015 American Music Awards) and Jared Leto (who wore an all-over sequined cape to the 2017 VMAs) these traditionally ‘feminine’ trends are currently filtering down into high street stores and being sold to the public with ever-increasing popularity.
Recent years have been great for gender-blurring fashion, with its gaining of mass popularity in main-stream culture. Perhaps one of the most iconic moments to date – helping to change perceptions on fashion and gender – was the reveal of Jaden Smith (yes, a male) as the star of Louis Vuitton’s 2016 womenswear ad campaign. By being featured in this campaign, the teen, who is often spotted in skirts and dresses, proved that even the more traditional and conservative fashion brands, such as LV, are now having their eyes opened to the need for inclusion in fashion, as well as the unnecessariness of gendered clothing.
Over and above the fact that this removal of gendered fashion allows for an increase in the amount of clothing and styles open to an individual in which they can express themselves, it also suggests a positive shift in the public’s mindset. Although far from resolving all issues, it allows the raising of important questions regarding gender – and what we consider male and female – while also aiding in erasing the stereotypes that can cause such harm upon individuals and society.