When a collection has a lot of suiting, sharp silhouettes and tweedy fabrics we say it’s menswear inspired. Details like silk, ruffles or exaggerations of the modern idealization of the female shape are called feminine. But as gender norms are beginning to be challenged more in society, it makes sense that fashion – one of the most obvious indicators of cultural norms – is displaying a progressive interpretation of gender presentation. Basically that like feminine and masculine traits, and indeed like gender itself for some, gender presentation is fluid.
We saw this new “gender neutral” dressing on runways like Public School, Baja East, The Row, and, the most mainstream of all, DKNY. DKNY had “real people” mixed in with models on their runway and also featured more menswear looks than ever before. It seemed to follow that the line between menswear and womenswear was a bit blurred. Most notably many, many designers showed pants with such wide legs and cut in such a way that it was difficult to ascertain if they were pants or skirts. (I wish I was tall enough to pull these off!) This was intentional, aesthetically, but also speaks to an idea that we don’t have to label a look masculine or feminine. Fashion can be less defined by the immediate recognition of a male or female form.
At Baja East male and female models switched clothing items mid-presentation, perhaps the most in-your-face display of how one item can work for both genders without cutting it differently. At Public School men and women walked the runway in essentially the same looks. It’s always been considered chic for a woman to fashionably pull off a man’s shirt or jeans, but we have to call them something culturally safe like “boyfriend jeans” to make it acceptable. For men it’s more difficult, Kanye couldn’t wear a Rick Owens kilt without a lot of backlash. But perhaps the idea that is becoming prevalent with children’s toy consumers – that we should stop shopping on one side of the aisle depending on whether we’re shopping for a boy or a girl – is making its way to the clothing department.
If you take a notion to explore this trend in your own wardrobe, it would certainly be easy to find the appropriate looks within the confines of your own gender-specific clothing department. But perhaps take a browse through the opposite gender’s department. You might find not only inspiration and some pieces none of your friends will be interpreting in the same way, but a new way to shop and dress.