A SEXLESS SOCIETY IS HERE
Fashion rides the gender blending trend
by Maria Raposo
Boys will be girls, and girls will be boys. No longer defined by masculine blues and feminine pinks, the gender spectrum is being re-designed by the millennials. Known as Generation Z, they are paving the way towards a more blended concept of gender: caring less about the traditions that formerly defined sexual identity, today’s youth are circumventing the out-dated binary gender system and are creating a new unisex establishment.
Evolving from the early glory days of the 70’s and 80’s; the unisex trend rode on the back of the cultural androgyny revolution. Think Boy George with his geisha beauty, and David Bowie with his lithe hips and hyper sexual make-up lighting up the trans world-stage. It was during this period that fashion began to embrace this slick new look, designers like Rei Kawakubo of Comme de Garcons, began early prototypes of genderless fashion. Her first woman’s wear collection was designed with the message “dress like a boy”.
And yet, the gender blending of today is by no means yesterday’s news. ‘Unisex’ has transcended the androgynous concept of the “boyfriend jean”, and instead now has blossomed into sexual ambivalence; the revolution we experience today is built from the ruins of gender identity. The whole perception of sexual orientation is being challenged by the millennials, not only are gender roles switching, but the world is coming to terms with what “Genderqueer” actually means. The Protein ‘Gender report’, states that 79% of millennials have woken up to this new world order, agreeing that gender roles and identity have indefinitely blurred.
Unisex was the dress de jour during fashion week. Take gender-neutral street wear brand ‘Hood by Air’ or label ‘Baja East’, who deconstructed traditional silhouettes and played with gender conventions of style and design in their recent collections. Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s new creative director, even sent his male models out in chiffon and lace. As fashion superpower Vogue UK, put it “Fashion is moving beyond the straightforward notion of borrowing from the boys towards a freewheeling, fabulously grey area where clothes are now gender-neutral.”
The runway has had a knock-on effect on retail, which is also tapping into this cultural trend. Selfridges is launching “Agender’ a unisex store, which intends to “sweep aside the boundaries of gender in retail.” A project that was initiated when it was noticed that shoppers kept wandering off into each other’s assigned gender aisles. Ed Burstell, the managing director of Liberty of London stated, “Stores are discussing all the time how they can figure out a gender common denominator for their fashion assortments,”
Much of advertising has abandoned the sexist cliches it relied on for so long. Busty babes in sleazy commercials selling everything from Sofaworld’s unsellable leather settees to double window glazing have vanished off our TV’s. Even American Apparel, has rid itself of sex letch Dov Charney and his perverse legacy of teenage porn stars in high-school socks, instead opting for Buttercup, the 23-year old sloth who is the new face of the clothing label.
Gender fluid branding is steadily becoming more obvious, just flip through the pages of leading fashion magazines and you’ll find transgender models are the stars of ICEBERG’s latest campaign. Last November, Brazilian model and muse Lea T, fronted Riccardo Tisci’s AW10 campaign for Givenchy. And noted androgynous male model Andrej Pejic has recently made the transition into a woman. This will make her the second transgender model to land a major beauty campaign in the past six months.
As we move in a new direction, is the gender shift acting as a cultural mirror, reflecting societies distaste for stereotypes? Look at Bruce Jenner for example, who recently come out as a woman, the fact he has had no death threats – is a positive outlook for the future of trans men and woman. The realisation has finally dawned on 21st century that your sex is something you’re born with and that your gender is a prescribed condition implicated by society. In the future, just as you change your outfit, you will be able to change your gender to express your true identity as you wish.