Gender in the Fashion Industry

Like everything else in life, fashion has rules. We claim that fashion can be a form of self expression, which it can from time to time, but it seems as though we are still somewhat restricted by society’s standards and expectations of us.

Let’s have a think about it. Who was the person that decided we must absolutely wear a suit to a business related job interview? Who decided that to be considered “creative” you must have brightly coloured hair and wear some sort of holographic material through the rip in your jeans? Who was it that chose for it to be socially acceptable for girls to wear skirts, but not boys? If you think about it, these rules seem ridiculous. When we get dressed we are literally putting different rags of cloth on us to cover our skin, so why are there rules to what rags we use?

Fashion is something I’ve particularly been in love with my entire life, so to critique the fashion industry and the choices they make for what is and isn’t socially acceptable to wear, is somewhat a reach out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, the “rules” of fashion still seem so ridiculous to me and it’s a problem I want to address.

326Courtesy of Rain Dove

What is the issue with letting people wear whatever they want? There are so many beautiful fashion pieces out there by all different brands and designers that need to be appreciated, so why are we limiting who is allowed to appreciate them? I personally don’t see the problem with someone who identifies as a man, for example, falling in love with a dress they see in H&M and going about their day wearing it. If anything, it deserves a round of applause. We should be embracing those who break through the gender barrier in clothing, not making them feel like an outcast. A designer has put so much effort and thought into creating a piece of clothing, why not let anyone wear it? There is no need to market it to any particular gender. I know that if I ever created a fashion piece, I would be ecstatic to see anyone wearing it, regardless of their gender, race, size, etc.

Some brands have already started to recognise this flaw in the industry and are already doing their best to try and correct it. For example, Jaden Smith is now part of the Louis Vuitton SS16 Womenswear campaign. This is a huge leap forward in terms of “gendered fashion”.


However, some brands have started getting the wrong idea. The point is to allow clothes to be available to everyone and anyone. Zara decided that by releasing an un-gendered clothing line that this may help the issue. Although their intentions may have been positive, the backlash they received was immense and, in all honesty, rightfully given. Their un-gendered clothing section featured plain androgynous pieces available in both men’s and women’s sizes. This is not exactly a progressive step forward, but rather a big step back. By creating this section of the website that only sells very plain basic clothing, it is further strengthening the line between women’s and men’s fashion. It suggests that when men and women have the opportunity to wear the same clothes, the pieces cannot be too feminine or too masculine. It reinforces the idea of feminine clothing not being acceptable for men to purchase and vice versa.


So what can we do to stop this? I say, we take a page out of Jaden Smith’s book and become unapologetic and unafraid to show our true style and our true selves. Whether you’re a man who loves wearing floral prints or a woman who’s obsessed with muscle tees and sports shorts or somewhere in between, you should be able to wear whatever you want. So be unafraid. Wear a floral dress and heels to work, throw on some ripped jeans and wear them with a smart blazer, wear orange and red and pink together! The only thing that’s telling you not to is society and one of the good things about society is that it can be easily ignored when you find the right amount of confidence. Let’s start a new generation of adults that are accepting and warm and excited by the thought of uniqueness and difference. Let’s be ourselves.

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Photo Courtesy of Zoe London