Un-gendering the Wardrobe
With genderless fashion being all the rage now, Meera Warrier takes a look at this growing trend.
Exploring the growing trend of genderless fashion
A couple of years back, actor Ranveer Singh’s sense of style broke the internet in India. And that started a spate of conversations around genderless fashion. If current trends are anything to go by, I will soon be sharing my wardrobe with not just my sister, but my brother or even my husband for that matter. Looks like genderless fashion is here to stay!
While the term ‘genderless fashion’ got coined not a long time ago, designers like Rohit Bal and Rajesh Pratap have introduced the thought into their designs through floral prints, unisex patterns and such, much earlier. It is now that the trend has caught popular attention and the fancy of an entire generation.
In the current set, there are organisations such as Gargee Designer’s who have stepped up on this front. They have taken the leap of faith and introduced what we term ‘androgynous fashion’. They have introduced asymmetrical cuts, loud prints and bling in their designs for the look, while also introducing a line of palazzo pants for men, draped kurtas, jumpers, and even accessories.
Speaking about the trend, Shyam Gupta and Ravi Gupta from Gargee Designer’s say, “The trend has been duly welcomed by the veterans, and they have made efforts in taking it ahead on the international platform and have made India visible in the league of androgynous fashion. The trend uses everything as a fashion statement that the old school fashion rejects.”
Throwing light on the connection of such a trend with the country, Benita Vira Sahani and Nikita Vira Kaushik, Co-Founders of Studio Casa 9 say, “Genderless fashion arrived in India long ago. If you observe the ancient era of mythology, you would see a lot of costumes, colour schemes and embellishments that are common in both genders and you will observe the same in today’s time as well. If you visit the interiors and the more rural areas of Gujarat, Kutch, Rajasthan, Assam and West Bengal, you will see both the genders sport their art forms through the clothes they wear in the most natural and subtle way. As you will notice, the most popular brands of the West have also introduced unisex lines. In fact, the 2018 edition of Lakme Fashion Week launched a new segment, ‘gender-bender’, which successfully showcased four labels sporting the genderless collection.”
Broadening the spectrum, Harsh Chheda, Founder & CEO, Corporate Collars says, “Genderless fashion is clothing, accessories, and style that don’t have to be well-defined by everyone or anyone. It has no guidelines. Even though gender volatility in fashion may not be quite conventional just yet, it is slowly and steadily becoming more and more popular with the fashion set. The international fashion industry
GENDERLESS FASHION IS CLOTHING, ACCESSORIES, AND STYLE THAT DON’T HAVE TO BE WELL-DEFINED BY EVERYONE OR ANYONE.
experienced more than a few breakthroughs when it came to embracing the idea of genderless fashion, on both the male and female runways at big houses, but gradually and bit by bit it definitely made its way to India with trends like boyfriend jeans, etc.”
This trend, in fact, even bodes well for manufacturers who are seeing this as an opportunity to launch newer lines that will be used across all genders. The cuts, designs and accessories do not have to be customised to suit a male or female wearer, in this case. At the stage of conceptualising, the designer takes great care to make it gender-agnostic and appealing to all sections. The greater the attention to detail at this stage, the easier the manufacturer’s job is.
INDIA EMBRACING GENDERLESS FASHION…
While the conversations have begun, they are just that–conversations and concepts. The Great Indian Middle Class–the biggest consumer set of the country–is yet to accept the idea. However, there is a silver lining as the experts suggest.
“Gender-neutral fashion is still regarded as a ‘trend’, in India. The demand for the same is definitely felt, but it’s more prominent in the metro cities, as it has already made its mark via unisex launches in India. I wouldn’t say that it’s restricted to any geography or strata; it will certainly penetrate the various Indian markets but at its own pace and time,” opines Chedda.
Adding to this, Sahani and Kaushik say, “India has a mixed audience. Some are comfortable in conservative and traditional dressing styles and hence follow the conventional fashion trends seen for the last few decades. On the other hand, we also have the unconventional, experimental and fashion-conscious audience who will sport these new waves. Hence, India will definitely see it in demand. The trend will not be restricted to any geographical region or strata of society. Most of the fashion trends have been inspired from the historic times, so it will definitely spread both horizontally and vertically. Today, Indian men don’t hesitate to sport pinks, violets and maroons which were initially associated predominantly with women’s wear, and women opt for neutrals like beiges, greys, browns and nudes as the new fashion trends. Most of the western styling in women’s wear was inspired by men’s wear– trousers, shirts, suits.”
MIRRORING GLOBAL TRENDS
Globally, genderless fashion has become a way of life for style aficionados as well as others. “Today, genderless fashion is defined as fashion that is neither feminine nor masculine. Its occurrence has been leisurely intensifying and it is in full bloom this season, as we can see in the latest collections of prominent fashion houses. In my personal opinion, neutral fashion is more than just a short-lived trend, but instead, a revolution driven by social concepts,” said Chedda.
Sahani and Kaushik hold a similar view, “Genderless fashion is the buzzword for many of the top designers today. It is highlighted in several popular fashion weeks in America and Europe as well. Globally, it is surely making waves through all the popular brands who sport unisex collections. Brands have to be more diverse whether they like it or not. Most of the consumers have supported the new launches, and a few have also criticised the very concept because according to them, it left no boundaries when it came to fashion-related ensembles. Also, when the famous and influential personalities start supporting something, it has a deep and strong impact on the lifestyle and thinking of the huge audience who follows them and admires them for the same.”
LOOKING AT THE FUTURE
While most experts agree that gender-agnostic shopping aisles will be the future, it is uncertain when that will happen. What is more surprising is the likening of the trend to queer fashion.
“Fashion is a crusade and the trend we are looking at is one of acceptance, broadmindedness and being indulgent. The Indian textile history is peppered with embroideries, cuts and fabrics which have nothing to do with gender, and it is time we reconsider and possess this aesthetics. India is truly edging towards the reception of queer fashion. Queer fashion is not an outlandish or an overseas notion and it shouldn’t be presented as such. With India becoming more globally aware, I feel that queer fashion is going to be one of the major trends in future,” commented Chedda.
Sahani and Kaushik concluded, “This movement is definitely not a one-day affair. It is here to stay longer than we all expect it. The future of genderless fashion is going to be youthful, vibrant, making heads turn and will also make a strong statement. All the traditional Indian fashion crafts like brocade weaves, Bandhani, ikat, block prints are all unisex.”
In a country where gender roles and conceptions are still so divided with separate places for men and women in society, it will be interesting to see how the thought of genderless fashion catches on.
WHILE MOST EXPERTS AGREE THAT GENDER-AGNOSTIC SHOPPING AISLES WILL BE THE FUTURE, IT IS UNCERTAIN WHEN THAT WILL HAPPEN.