The future of fashion

Removing the gender binary from clothing


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

A piece of fabric, a textile or a garment is genderless. The fashion industry needs to represent the gender spectrum in a more realistic and inclusive way.

Brielle Wilson, Staff Reporter

Women wear dresses, men wear suits. This outdated stereotype has been told to children for centuries. Our society expects men to wear clothing they deem as “masculine” while women are told to wear “feminine” clothing. This topic has proven to be controversial in recent years, as many people are starting to reject traditional gender norms in fashion.

Fashion is synonymous with personal expression. It plays a large role in who we are and how others perceive us. Our clothing is supposed to make us feel confident and comfortable, while also allowing us to showcase our personality and individuality. In many ways, what we choose to wear is part of who we are.

The idea that fashion correlates with gender not only hinders our ability to develop our personal style, but also our ability to show who we are. This is why it’s important to allow everyone to be free to explore and wear whatever they choose.

For as long as fashion has existed through fashion shows, seasons and trends, it has worked under the assumption that gender exists in a binary. According to Vogue, every aspect of the fashion system is bound to the segregated ideas of womenswear and menswear. Universities, retail floors, e-commerce websites and even directorships are divided down gender lines. Since an individual’s style can be fluid and flexible, the fashion industry needs to start to represent the gender spectrum in a more inclusive and realistic way.

According to Rutger University’s Newspaper, the Daily Targum, there have been many large strides in escaping the traditional gender binary. For instance, the general public has started to recognize that sex and gender aren’t the same and that people can identify with whichever gender they feel they embody, but these changes have only come in recent years. People who don’t fit the gender binary in fashion are still frowned upon. Everyone should be able to wear what makes them comfortable, regardless of their gender.

Many celebrities have started to dress against the traditional gender binary. In November 2020, singer Harry Styles broke the internet when he was pictured on the cover of Vogue wearing a dress. This sparked a lot of controversy on social media. While there were many supporters of Styles’ gender-bending outfit, a large number of people publicly hated on his look.

In response to Styles, conservative political commentator Candance Owens tweeted that society ought to “bring back manly men.” This tweet not only promotes harmful gender stereotypes but also suggests that men who wear “feminine” clothing can’t be “manly.” Styles’ fashion choices should in no way invalidate his identity as a man. Styles and other popular influencers should be able to express themselves freely without receiving backlash from society.

For those who identify as something other than male and female, such as gender fluid or non-binary, clothing is especially important. These individuals may not feel comfortable wearing clothing bound to the gender binary. Forcing them to dress either feminine or masculine makes them feel invalid. Gender-neutral fashion is defined as clothing that is not inherently male or female and is available to all body types. Many fashion brands, such as Telfar and Harris Reed, provide a wide variety of gender-neutral clothing. As stated by Ethos News, clothing without gender bias is a key factor in the future of the fashion industry. 

Teens are still discovering who they are and how they want to present themselves, so it’s important to let them explore their style. In many cases, appearance can add to an individual’s overall mood. So if a woman wants to wear a suit, she should be able to without being reprimanded for it. If a man wants to wear makeup to conceal blemishes, he can. The clothing people choose to wear is not harmful to others in any way. 

The future of fashion has no boundaries. By removing the gender binary in clothing, people can be themselves without conforming to oppressive societal standards.