When I heard about Zara’s ungendered range I thought to myself “this is fantastic what a brave step forward for the high street”. This was soon followed with my curiosity of what have Zara offered the gender fluid market, what I found was an extreme let down. The pieces at a glance were just generic jersey basics nothing left me feeling excited or even inspired. When I looked into the collection further to my suprise it seemed to be a rebranding of their unisex range.
What was released was nothing that would have been basic wardrobe staples regardless of gender, unadventurous flowing t-shirts and jersey shorts were amongst the collection. My original thoughts on the matter quickly changed, so I decided to look into this further to find out what other brands can learn from this (how Zara could move forward?) and what the future holds for Ungendered fashion does it have a place on the high street?
To me gender fluid fashion holds no female nor male connotations meaning a garment like a denim play suit for instance, which is designed for both men and women to wear. So by Zara still describing the pieces as ‘unisex’ which simply does not apply to being Ungendered and still links to being male and females clothing just designed for both sexes. I-D magazine spoke to Farideh Arbanian who is currently studying a module “Ungendered fashion” at New Yorks Parsons school of design stating, “For me, unisex refers to a piece of clothing that was designed to fit and flatter both male and female bodies. ‘Ungendered,’ on the other hand, is much trickier and ambitious, as it suggests an elimination of any trace of masculine or feminine traits on the garment.”
(Yves Saint Laurent ‘Le smoking suit’)
(Jean Paul Gautier Autumn/Winter ’07)
So when looking for the inspiration for stylish more thought out pieces that are less dystopian future, my head first went to Le smoking suit by Yves Saint Laurent. First introduced in 1966 a age where women wearing pants was in heard of and inappropriate. This tuxedo-style suit oozed sex appeal and became an iconic look not just a statement party piece. Later In the 80’s Jean Paul Gautier caused controversy by sending male models down the runway in kilts, despite criticism Gautier gained infamy by playing with gender roles in his fashion lines.
Today we can look at pop culture as the non gender binary revolution has begun with the likes of Jaden Smith, who is the face of Louis Vuitton womanswear. Also Miley Cyrus announcing being gender fluid, with stars throwing themselves into the fold opens up the discussion and hopefully move Ungendered fashion into the right direction.
In conclusion Zara have made a huge step forward especially if the Ungendered range reaches stores, as this will open up retail space on the high street creating more competition and get them creative juices following to create strong and more inspirational garments. However I feel the execution of this range seemed to be a massive rebranding move on Zara’s part. With a bit more creative thought behind this market could lead to one of the most inspirational fashion movement in years to come. What I think the main challenge is men adopting what would be associated to be more feminine pieces, however I think I’ll leave my thoughts on that until a future date.