• Faith Bugenhagen

Gender Nonconformity in the Fashion Industry

One of the concepts that have emerged within the society we live in today is the concept that gender is simply socially constructed. Meaning that if one wants to be defined by a binary gender, that is okay, however additionally if one wants to be genderless, that is okay too. There has been a rise of graphic t-shirts printed with phrases like, “Gender doesn’t exist,” over the front of them, that are worn by advocates of gender expression and fluidity. 


The freedom that ensues is not just one of personal identity, but also of expression. Blending, merging, and creating gender expression with dimensionality gives way to a plethora of expression abilities. This concept has permeated into the fashion industry, as campaigns from certain brands are becoming more gender-inclusive, often leading to unisex collections. Additionally within the modeling industry, by proxy of designers, models who do not necessarily identify with the gender that is targeted by the campaign, are seen featured in said campaigns. 

Of these models, ones that are known for walking in menswear collections included notable names such as Kaia Gerber, named Model of the Year at the 2018 Annual Fashion Awards. Gerber followed suit by other models within the industry, like Jaden Smith who was featured in a Louis Vuitton womenswear campaign wearing a skirt. 



Photo credit: Daily Mail


Although these are just a few examples of gender-bending and blending in the fashion industry, this notion has taken the industry by storm, allowing consumers and designers to re-evaluate garments that are often attributed to only one gender.

On the viral platform TikTok, a social media sensation that has given rise to GenZ creators, the platform tag #femmeboyfriday has allowed male creators who prefer to fashion characteristically “feminine” looks, to show off their outfits of that day. When scrolling through the general feeds of TikTok users’ this concept trickles into the female masses, as they too display their sense of style by encapsulating looks that are stereotypically attached to masculinity. 


This new wave of style comes from the consumers of the industry themselves, not the fashion industry itself. Because of the change of acceptance within gender identities and expressions, consumers are wanting and urging for there to be clothing that encapsulates their needs and desires. It is about the industry catering to the waves of new expressions and identities that are emerging within society. The industry is single-handedly being carved out and constructed a-new by these consumers. 


Clothing is increasingly becoming considered unisex within the industry, as designers are shying away from limiting their consumers into binary boxes that no longer exist. Ad campaigns, collections, and designs are becoming more all-inclusive and are re-creating what garments, outfits, and clothing look like. 


It is important to note, however, that this wave of new expression and identity should not be constructed into a bandwagon that consumers can hop on. Consumers must understand and respect that there is being a call-to-attention of designers that hold places of power in the industry to create these forms of garments that can cater to the dimensionality of the consumer. It is not something that is considered trendy or aesthetic, but rather holds value and allows consumers to shape their identity and expression to how they see fit. Their outer shells are now matching their inner shells, for the better.