Un-gen­der­ing the Wardrobe

With gen­der­less fash­ion be­ing all the rage now, Meera War­rier takes a look at this grow­ing trend.

Apparel - - CONTENTS OCTOBER 2018 -

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


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.


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.”


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.”


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.




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