There used to be a time when you would enter a fashion store and the women’s clothing would be clearly signposted on the ground floor, with men having to typically traipse upstairs. And that, some would agree, is how it should be.
Celebrities however, are a different breed, and it is their love of ‘genderless fashion’, fashion in which either sex can wear, has encouraged retailers to mix it up a bit.
One such retailer, Selfridges, has launched a ‘gender-neutral’ pop up campaign called ‘Agender’ in their Oxford Street store. They have axed their separate men and women’s departments in favour of a unisex section, which spans three floors.
The campaign has come about after catwalk shows have featured gender neutral styles, which have seen boys rocking pussy bow blouses and girls sporting suits and blazers.
It also follows the influence of certain celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, who famously wore a suit and bow-tie to the BAFTAS, and model Cara Delevingne who often wears a suit on the red carpet.
The Selfridges genderless space is devised by renowned designer Faye Toogood. There are five unisex collections available and ‘Agender’ pieces are included from forty of its regular brands. There will also be beauty products and accessories for men and women available.
Included amongst the unisex brands is a capsule collection by Bodymap, a collection by footwear brand Underground, made-to-order couture designs from Rad Hourani and the U.K. launch of Nicola Formichetti’s collection Nicopanda.
A spokesperson for Selfridges explained the concept of Agender:
“For us, Agender is not about harnessing a “trend” but rather tapping into a mind-set and acknowledging and responding a cultural shift that is happening now.”
“We will explore the relationship between gender and retail physically, digitally and in all of our stores,” he added.
“The project will act as a test bed for experimentation around ideas of gender – both to allow our shoppers to approach the experience without preconceptions and for us as retailers to move the way we shop fashion forward.”
Brands already housed at Selfridges, such as Boy London, enjoyed an increase in sales when singer Rihanna and model Cara Delevingne were seen in their outfits.
Whilst other labels that are less gender defined and more unisex, including KTZ, Trapstar and Hood By Air, are already proving to be popular, especially with women, who want a more gender neutral style.
There are problems however, when trying to combine men and women’s wear across genders. Sizing, for instance, does not really translate across the two, and also how do you make the environment appeal to both men and women?
“I want people to walk into a very neutral space. I am making a series of sculptures that are my take on a mannequin, but they are genderless in form. I managed to convince Selfridges that by bagging all of their product in white canvas, I am removing all visual merchandising, branding and any sense of demographic in terms of gender,” said Toogood.
As Selfridges embraces a genderless future, there are others that think this is the way we will be shopping for clothing in the future.
“It’s the future. The lines will continue to blur and there will continue to be less difference between collections,” said Luisa Via Roma’s Pascarella. “Even men and women’s physical appearances are becoming more similar: super thin physiques, thicker, equally groomed eyebrows, barely there makeup for both — the list goes on.”
Images courtesy Selfridges