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How fluid fashion could shape our future

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

A dress on the cover of Vogue? Groundbreaking. Well apparently, it was!

Last week former One Direction star and all-round-heart-throb Harry Styles graced the cover of the American magazine in a custom Gucci gown.

Not only did Harry make history as the first ever solo male to appear on the fashion mags front page - he also sparked a conversation around modern masculinity and gendered dressing.

Looking beyond the binary

There’s currently a growing exploration of gender-fluid and non-binary retail taking place around the world.

Sam Cheow, head of innovation and product development at Estee Lauder points to Gen Z for the way the needle is moving stating “traditional male/female ideology is obsolete to this generation of customers”. This is echoed by broader cultural research showing that 35% of Gen Z’ers know someone who prefers to go by gender-neutral pronouns compared to just 12% of baby boomers.

The genderless shopping experience

Like most fashion trends, what starts with high-end designer brands tends to trickle down to the high street.

We’ve already seen big names like Stella McCartney and Gucci go live with gender neutral collections. This also extends to their online stores with ‘gender neutral’ navigation sitting alongside the traditional ‘shop men’ and ‘shop women’ categories on the homepage. While in London, Adidas altered their in-store setup to allow customers to shop by function, sport and aesthetic rather than gender.

Blurring the lines of beauty

Beauty is another arena challenging cultural norms at a rapid rate. Rihanna’s Fenty Skin have staked a claim in gender inclusivity by effortlessly incorporating men and women into its marketing. We’ve also seen a surge in influencer-led beauty brands such as Patrick Starr’s One/Size step onto the scene, proving there’s demand for brand’s that are willing to bend the rules.

Bonus environmental benefits

In Wunderman Thompson’s 2020 trend report, they outline how the pandemic has provided incentive for retailers to swap their traditional methods for a process that’s more streamlined and sustainable.

For retailers, the possibility of one inclusive collection means cutting down on space, materials and costs – shrinking the size of their footprint. “If you’re gender neutral, you make one sample, one fitting, and one production line. It’s a lot more efficient for operations...and the environment” – Rob Smith, founder of the Phluid Project.

Hannah Payton


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