Last week we had Aoife, a 16 year old Transition Year student, doing work experience here with us in HeadStuff HQ. She was interested in our work and we were interested in her ideas, so we decided to publish some of the articles she worked on while she was here. This is one of them.
Classically, we would have two main types of clothing: clothes for men, and clothes for women; but what does what we wear reflect about ourselves, and our gender? Recently it has become less necessary for our clothes to be gender specific.
Throughout history we have seen men in kilts, makeup and of course high heels. In fact, all of these items were originally worn only by men, until over time they became associated with just women. Women began wearing heels as a way of trying to make their outfits more masculine. At the same time they began smoking pipes.
Gender fluidity is a common term now. More people are veering away from the strict confines of gender roles and sometimes even genders themselves. In the fashion industry this has been headlined by celebrities such as Jaden Smith, who modeled for Louis Vuitton’s womenswear collection (pictured above).
My Mood When They Try To Hate pic.twitter.com/VWRgQUSxUT
— Jaden Smith (@officialjaden) February 6, 2016
As the son of Will Smith, Jaden has never been afraid to be a little different. Along with his sister Willow, Jaden has become something of a style icon. He is popular with my generation for his rather unusual philosophic tweets and the fearless way he wears dresses.[pullquote]Gender fluidity is a common term now. More people are veering away from the strict confines of gender roles and sometimes even genders themselves.[/pullquote]
With growing acceptance of different sexualities – and what they mean – the question now is, how relevant is gender to our clothing? Generation Z; the internet children, are dealing with this question in our own unique way. Young people are talking about gender equality, what it means to different people, and Gender Non Binary, when someone does not identify with either gender. More and more people are using this term to describe themselves. They don’t want to just be seen as a gender, they want to be seen as themselves.
As a generation we are branching out into the unknown, the in between of male and female: and we are wearing this on our sleeves. While previous generations introduced metrosexuality and equality, our generation is tearing down gender walls and creating something completely new. We are rejecting gender norms and accepting everyone, regardless of what they wear.
There has been an increase in demand of clothes that can be worn by both genders. As Jaden Smith famously tweeted:
“Went to topshop to buy some girl’s clothes, I mean ‘clothes’.”
This brought the issue to the forefront of the young generation’s minds; what makes clothes gender specific? The new generation are reluctant to conform to strict fashion roles. Surely forcing people to wear certain styles of clothes simply because of their gender is counterproductive to equality. It is constricting and unnecessary to brand clothes in this way.
On the catwalk, Saint Lauren is taking a step in the right direction with their January collection. This featured male models in high heels and blouses. Other high end designers such as Burberry are also playing with delicate lace blouses on their male models. Gucci made conscious efforts to have more androgynous styles at their Spring 2016 shows, expanding Haute Couture and making it more inclusive.
It’s not only in menswear that there has been a shift towards androgynous styles. Female celebrities are cutting their hair short, and wearing their jeans loose. Ruby Rose has been at the forefront of this with her short hair and more rough look. She believes in “dressing for what you want to express.” Ruby is one of the most popular celebrities for my generation and is hugely influential.
My favourite singer Halsey is also fond of more traditionally masculine clothes, and her hairstyles vary greatly from long feminine locks to closely shaven. Her music videos often feature pretty boys and handsome girls. Troye Sivan, another singer and gay rights ambassador, flirts with very skinny jeans and feminine jackets in his videos.[pullquote]Surely forcing people to wear certain styles of clothes simply because of their gender is counterproductive to equality. It is constricting and unnecessary to brand clothes in this way.[/pullquote]
Popular clothes store Zara has also stepped up to the mark with their new genderless clothing line. Although not perfect, this provides a baseline for other designers to create clothes that can be worn by everyone. There is a new generation, and we are looking for fashion suited to our personality and individual tastes, not clothes specifically made for our gender. We do not want to be forced into a gender uniform.
Zara have chosen to go about this in a non-invasive way. Their new collection is easy to digest and extremely wearer-friendly. Whether you identify as gender non binary or not, the clothes are wardrobe staples. I look forward to a more exciting genderless collection soon.
It’s difficult enough to feel comfortable with the way you look, especially as a teenager. I hope that this movement towards inclusive fashion that can be worn by everyone will help with this. The fashion industry has soared recently; the world clothing and textile industry reached $1.7 trillion in 2012. With more seasons and a bigger variety of styles, there is something for everyone’s taste now. Our clothes can say a lot about who we are, it is important that we can identify with them.