The Gender-Neutral Analysis
Burberry x Ib Kamara
I hesitated to write on this subject because it is a quite sensitive one. And with those kind of issues, you have to be careful in terms of terminology and definitions. But after all, if we don’t try to talk about social issues because they are too touchy, how are we supposed to go forward. So this article is not aimed to do a critique of gender neutral in fashion industry – or in general. It is an article that exposed the benefits of this influence into fashion industry. When I’m saying ‘benefits’, I’m not talking about money. This word is used in this sentence with a neutral meaning. It only points what gender neutral can brings to today’s fashion industry.
But first, it might be a good thing to explain what is actually gender-neutral
During my year in sociology, this topic was often discussed and it was hard to make everyone satisfied when it comes to the definition. Even if the debate is still on in terms of definition, some elements can help us understand the concept. When we are born, we come with biological reproductive organs. Our sex will define if we are a « woman » or a « men ». However, behind those simple words, an entire world of social roles is hidden. Gender attribution is a social process and not a biological one. So the debate is right here. If gender comes from a social process, by putting it in perspective, we can objectify and make a critique of this entire social functioning. More than ever, identity in our western societies is really challenging. I think gender-neutral is one of the many claims that go with individual identity needs. As a member of a society, you want to feel represented when it comes to typology. When your society is based on a binary typology, the options are tight. So gender neutral is aimed to avoid society – institutions – to distinguish roles according to sex. This concept is aimed to re-think our social gender typology and also brings the idea like ‘Gender-blindness’. The latter refers to a gender neutrality in everyday relationship. We could also mention that Gender-neutral ideology is trying to re-define the masculinity and the femininity. The traditional definitions of those terms feel irrelevant in our current society.
In line with the social requests, fashion has taken a turning point. Those last few years, we have seen many gender-neutral brands emerge. They want to go over the gender ties and make clothes that can be intergender. I think that’s why including persons of different gender identity in the same fashion show has been so popular lately. They want to create collections that go beyond this simple typology.
Gender Neutral in fashion goes beyond basic designs
As per many clichés, also known in the sustainable sub-category, we often associate gender-neutral with basic designs. No need to blame you for this, is it quite true but not completely. Of course, there are brands such as One DNA that propose a minimalist design approach. Even if the collections are not so bad, I totally understand some of us need something more charismatic to be seduced. I am one of those people that like basic but not too much… As gender-neutral is aimed to eliminate the line between gender to re-think the social roles, designs can be very shaped according to the brand’s vision. Designers can play with different gender singularities and underline their limits. This influence brings to fashion industry a new perspective to explore and I’m quite excited with it. The most known brands in this discipline is Eckhaus Latta. I think the most interesting is the fact that those silhouettes are genuinely designed beyond the gender layer. That’s what brings me to the next point.
Are Gender-Neutral brands able to contribute to our discussion of gender identity?
In fashion history, some items had a tangible impact on social mentalities. The best example is the mini-skirt. It became a trend before the emancipation of woman. In a way, it helped the cause because it was a way to claim this right of emancipation. By considering this historical aspect, we could totally feel the same about gender-neutral brands. Making the difference between the two sex gives a clear distinctive roles. If we erase the gender aspect of apparel, it could help to erase the boundaries that are imposed by society in terms of role. I’m not saying that it could erase the entire system. What I’m saying however is that it would help to make our perceptive grow. For instance, more and more often, you can see that fashion editorials include gender-neutral styles. The outfits are set to blur the line between femininity and masculinity. What I appreciate in this social movement is the fact many photoshoots stage « Man » dresses. Expressing gender-neutrality through editorials can be very interesting and can also be done though various ways. By confronting people to this visual expression, it could have an impact on our conception of gender.
« I am focusing on building a brand that will challenge people’s minds. I feel that everyone’s on the gender spectrum, so the more we can break it down and get back to individual wants and desires, the more we can puch society forward »
3 Gender-Neutral brands highly recommended