On June 6, 2018, the brand Doublet wins the coveted LVMH Prize, rewarding young creative talent. Its collection blends women in suits, men perched on pink high soles, denim and vinyl for everyone… Its creed? Genderless fashion, which goes beyond the distinction between men and women.
The label is thus in line with several designers, such as Charles Jeffrey at Loverboy. Meanwhile, fashion weeks shows are more mixed than ever — including haute-couture — and Jaden Smith put on a skirt for a Louis Vuitton campaign.
At the Instagram era, is fashion undergoing its gender revolution?
A really new phenomenon?
The modern woman has been using the men’s dressing room since Chanel, who steals their striped jersey and blazer jackets. Yves Saint Laurent goes further when he introduces the Sahara jacket and, above all, the tuxedo. These are tremendous successes, but more a matter of adaptation than direct appropriation. The cuts are refined, underline the curves and rest on sophisticated materials. So we choose to feminize the garment.
A few years later, Jean-Paul Gaultier has fun blurring the lines. His house is the first to play so much on androgyny, parading men in feathered dresses and stripper heels. A voice that will inspire members of the younger generation, including Shayne Oliver, designer of the streetwear label Hood by Air.
In another repertoire, Yohji Yamamoto and his comrades of antifashion (movement advocating minimalism and deconstruction, as opposed to the bling in vogue in the 80s, editor’s note) already imagine a “gender free” fashion, close to the one we wish to represent today. Rather than seeking to merge the two opposites, they completely free themselves from this duality, ultimately considering it non-existent. On this subject, the Japanese creator confides to the New York Times in 1983:
I still wonder who decided that there should be a difference between men’s and women’s clothing.
“You’ve come a long way, baby”
Although founding, the work done by Gaultier or Yamamoto is aimed at an elite only. It remains an experiment designed for a podium, indeed understood by aficionados, but out of touch with the societal trends of the time.
On the other hand, the phenomenon occurring nowadays corresponds to the exact opposite. The creators have nothing to do with it, it is the liberation of the discourse on gender questions, the struggle for transidentity and the rejection of binarity that influence brands. As proof, these changes are far from being limited to the luxury industry. H&M, ASOS and Zara regularly launch 100% unisex capsules. Dr Denim also makes it one of his hobby horses, while John Lewis is the first to apply this principle to children. Although this may be a pure marketing strategy, the multiplication of these operations nevertheless reflects the growing need to which they respond.
Beyond the status of a simple trend, everything suggests that genderless should remain around. Without going so far as to replace the classic male/female sections, which will always be dominant, it has undeniably established itself as a current anchored in the spirit of its time. •