How Retailers Are Responding To The Gender-Neutral Fashion Trend

Photo: MCV Photo.
Whether it’s Proenza Schouler enlisting a male model for its womenswear show, or Hood By Air using baggy pants (on girls) and skintight dresses (on guys) as commentary on gender stereotypes, this season has been all about blurring the lines between the sexes. Most recently, Gucci’s new creative director Alessandro Michele made his womenswear runway debut with a show everyone was talking about — not only for the clothing itself, but for his choice to use both female and male models to show off his Margot Tenenbaum-esque collection. Although gender neutrality is currently enjoying its moment on the catwalk, Business of Fashion reports that the movement is having a ripple effect on retail, as well. 

One explanation for this is that shopping habits have shifted. As Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager for menswear at Barneys New York told the site, "Ultimately, it is more about beautiful clothes that are rare and special; it is more of a sidebar note that these clothes are stylistically less rigid than what we perceive to conform to a definition of masculine versus feminine." 

In other words, these days, people pick out their outfits for a simple reason: because they like the clothes, not because the clothes adhere to a specific gender norm. This reasoning affects how retail buyers choose the collections they stock, as well as how the clothing is displayed in-store. Monica Pascarella, chief menswear buyer at Luisa Via Roma added that, "Probably around 30% of the total menswear buy is genderless. J.W. Anderson, Rick Owens, Saint Laurent… It has already changed the way we style products." Female mannequins are styled with menswear items, because that's how people are dressing in real life. 

Although we doubt retailers will take a cue from Selfridges and go entirely gender-free, this men's and womenswear mashup is still a small but important step. After all, women have been shopping in the men's department (and vice versa) forever. Now, with runway designers' blessings, retailers are just making it easier to do so.  (Business of Fashion)
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