Is the future of fashion gender-free?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.
During the past couple of years, we’ve seen more brands and retailers dabble in genderless or unisex products and apparel, generally to much praise. Target debuted a gender-free clothing collection for kids, while H&M unveiled a unisex denim collection called “Denim United.” Zara released a genderless collection just last year, and Toys “R” Us and Target have made strides to ditch boys’ and girls’ categories, signs and displays in stores.
So, is the future or fashion — or even retail in general — genderless?
“While I don’t believe the future of fashion is entirely genderless (as that could mean ignoring male and female aesthetic cues and codes entirely), I do believe as we societally get comfortable with a scale of gender fluidity, shopping across that scale will become more widespread for all genders,” Natalie Prout, associate strategy director at the business transformation agency Phenomenon, told Retail TouchPoints. “Simply put, there will always be people who identify with either end of the traditional male/female scale, but more and more people will feel comfortable living and dressing across it.”
“Millennials and Gen-Z consumers were raised to believe they could be and do anything they wanted,” Ms. Prout added. “Why would fitting firmly into a pink or a blue box be the exception?”
Having a genderless mindset is something retailers can really benefit from, according to Ms. Prout.
“Lifestyle and tech products beyond fashion are more inclusive of individuality — an iPhone being the classic example, where the form factor was gender-neutral but rose gold models sold extremely well amongst men,” she said. “All-gender products simply mean ‘human’ products. By embracing individuality and self-expression as the key design code rather than gender, apparel retailers can design 100 percent of their products for 100 percent of their customers.”
Of course, retailers and brands do face challenges, such as backlash from people who reject gender fluidity.
“Retailers will have to decide what side of the discussion they want to be on,” said Ms. Prout. “PR monitoring and swift responses will be essential, as will the honest, brand authentic reasoning behind it. Retailers don’t have to be combative in this, but if they’re not prepared to tell their story, others may attempt to tell it for them.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see the future of fashion or overall design becoming less dependent on gender? In what ways will retailers look to capitalize on the trend?