Fashion Goes Fluid: Stepping Beyond The Binary
We're living in interesting times that call for a deconstruction of age-old notions declaring who wears what. Read on to gain insight on how gender fluid fashion has made its way into the mainstream.
The fashion avenue is deemed to be an ever-changing and all-encompassing medium of expression. Perhaps the most riveting art form out there, free flowing expression finds its abode in hues and silhouettes of the fashion industry by allowing people to showcase and explore their identity, culture and talent through statement choices.
However, decoding the paradigm shift in fashion towards the gender-bending style in recent times has been hailed as a direct influence of the gender-fluid movement.
The conversation as of late in the fashion world is no longer obsessed with the portrayal of masculinity or femininity. Instead, blurring the lines between menswear and womenswear is a new wave of futuristic fashion that goes beyond the binary.
We as a community are gradually coming to terms with the fact that gender is an outdated construct and as a result are now witnessing the interesting gender-fluid movement that is all about shirking off the unprecedented period of gender upheaval and paving the way for unisex wearability and fashion statements that go against the traditional expectations.
Tracing back to the origins of fluidity in fashion, blips in history have been marked by iconic individuals stepping out of the binary to blur the lines of gender by expressing their identity through bold statements.
Chucking the confines of male/female in the bin, fashion has been a fluid form of expression throughout - dating all the way back to 1507-1458 BCE, when the Egyptian Queen Hatsheput reigned over Egypt as a pharaoh donning male regalia and a false beard.
Fast-forwarding to the 90's, when luxury kingpin Gucci set out to be a lynch-pin brand in the gender free movement by cross-pollinating silhouettes on male and female models, saw notable faces like Katharine Hepburn donning suits with male models sashayed in pussy bows down the runway while off the runway women activists challenged the proverbial question of ‘who wears the pants’.
In the contemporary era of gender fluidity, all bets are off. The market is rife with creatives and clothing ranges that have urged people to become more open-minded and forward thinking, and fluidity in clothing is just one facet of that. Looking at the bigger picture, the fluid fashion saga feels different and more impactful – as it carries the onus of being more substantial and politically engaged.
In simpler words, fashion is political. For example, the representation of gender-fluid fashion at the runway has increased the sensitivity towards the experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals because for them non-binary fashion is not a style but an identity.
The subject of gender and fashion takes on particular immediacy in the current setting of LGBTQIA+ rights along with the exploration of 'self-hood' for the community, as an increasing number of brands and designers grapple with critically, creatively and publicly linking their artistic vision with gender identity.
Cementing its way to the top as a showstopper are the fluid silhouettes that boast being nonconforming, vivacious and vibrant. The global runway is being stirred by designers delivering unique rendition of non-binary ensembles – from re-envisioned men’s suits with high and low skirts to an experimental blend of textures, prints and fits. The message is loud and clear - beauty is beauty, regardless of gender.
As a subtle nod to the existing movement breaking barriers in clothing, various brands like Target have removed gender labels from in-store signages, while H&M has dropped multiple gender-neutral campaigns that focus on unisex clothing. Various other up and coming labels like Charles Jeffrey's LOVERBOY and Eckhaus Latta regularly show seasonal collections with non- binary representation strutting around in pussy-bow blouses, patent leather boots, thigh-skimming silky shorts and bold handbags.
Gender fluid fashion definitely comes with a lot of "cool creds". Scroll through to see some of our exclusive picks of noteworthy gender fluid brands and pioneers of the movement –
There is an evident androgynous style statement showcased on their runway which features male/female models wearing the same clothes, effectively making it a unisex collection. From corsets to cropped tank tops, a range of risqué bodysuits to slit skirts and a lot more, this gender fluid label has a strong fan base in many Instagram influencers who have sported the brand along with supermodels like Gigi and Bella Hadid.
The labels non-binary style reflects in their visual aesthetic and a thoughtful Instagram bio. Anaam focuses on being more than a mainstream fashion label, rather it portrays itself as a movement of sorts that challenges the binary and acceptable standards of dressing. Fashion-forward stars like Sonam Kapoor have also been photographed wearing their designs.
Performance artist and designer Alok Menon has been vocal about the need for fashion and beauty industries to ‘de-gender’ fashion to better celebrate trans and nonbinary people. The queer artist actively showcases their eccentric style in six-inch heels and vibrant dresses on the gram!
While most of HUEMN’s creations are mainly considered unisex, they have specifically added a non-binary section on their site. The brand aims to create a wider dialogue with inclusion and representation taking the center stage in the world of fashion. In general, HUEMN’s designs involve a range of shirts, jackets, and jeans in relaxed fits.
A label that celebrates the craftiness of Indian artisans and revives Indian art through its silhouettes, NorBlack NorWhite marries age-old textile designs with modern sensibilities. With free flowing fluid silhouettes that don’t make any distinctions in terms of gender, the label proves to be a fashion forward safe space for all.
A trans-woman of Indian-origin, Vivek Shraya is an Indian-origin artist who's body of work touches upon queer identities, music and literature to visual art, theater, and film. A style icon for many, Vivek is regularly seen donning chic silhouettes and making bold style statements.
The 21-year-old graphic designer, fashion icon and social activist explores themes of social justice and self exploration through her work, and has being part of Gucci’s The Future is Fluid campaign in 2019 along with many other coveted campaigns representing the gender bending wave.
The word of fashion is evolving and emerging to be a safe space that thrives off inclusivity, unabashed expression and vivid ideas being brought to life. The room for conversation around the flight for fluidity in the fashion sphere seems to be bustling with creatives and labels quickly understanding clothing and its correlation with identity and liberation.
The future is seemingly being blended, blurred, even re-imagined altogether and fashion is set out to upturn societal boxes of conformity by stepping beyond the binary. Let's break the stereotypes by expanding people's perception of how men and women can dress - one outfit at a time!