Update: A spokeswoman for Vogue issued the following statement regarding the shoot: "The story was intended to highlight the impact the gender-fluid, non-binary communities have had on fashion and culture. We are very sorry the story did not correctly reflect that spirit — we missed the mark. We do look forward to continuing the conversation with greater sensitivity."
This story was originally published on July 13, 2017.
Conventional style norms are so 2016. Lately, there’s been an uptick in gender fluidity in fashion, with brands like Rick Owens, Gucci, J.W. Anderson, and even H&M embracing (and selling) the idea of all gender clothing. Celebrities too. See: Jaden Smith's Louis Vuitton campaign, or 13 Reasons Why's Tommy Dorfman at The MTV Movie & TV Awards.
As it turns out, Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik aren’t bound by gender constraints, either — at least, by Vogue's standards. The couple covers the magazine’s August issue in interchangeable Gucci suits, accompanied by the headline: "Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Are Part of a New Generation Embracing Gender Fluidity." Newsflash: Hadid and Malik wear each other’s clothing, like every other couple. What is it with the world's obsession with straight couples sharing wardrobes?
“I shop in your closet all the time, don’t I?” Hadid asks Malik in the cover story, to which he replies, “Yeah, but same." Most recently, the former One Directioner borrowed his girlfriend's Anna Sui T-shirt. “I like that shirt,” he said. “And if it’s tight on me, so what? It doesn’t matter if it was made for a girl.”
The 22-year-old model continues: “Totally. It’s not about gender. It’s about, like, shapes. And what feels good on you that day. And anyway, it’s fun to experiment...”
Hadid is right, it is fun to experiment. And Vogue raises a legitimate — and interesting — point when it asks, "But where, exactly, is someone neither entirely he nor she meant to shop?" But the rest of the article fails to continue this discourse. As far as we know, Zayn and Gigi do not identify as gender-fluid, so a profile on their relationship does nothing to answer questions about all-gender clothing.
Twitter users have, naturally, started calling out the magazine's misuse of the term: "Men and women swapping clothes doesn't represent gender fluidity because you're still saying there are men and women. That's the whole point," one wrote. Another added: "Think Vogue is a bit confused on what gender fluidity is! Wearing your GF's T-shirt does not make you gender fluid."
The author continues: "And how, exactly, is such a person to be defined?" The answer is in the article's own headline. "Gender-fluid" is a widely used term to define individuals who reject the gender binary to exist on a spectrum of gender identity. Again, it's not clear whether they actually identify as gender-fluid (or if their intentions are to break past the gender binary) based on this Vogue profile. What it isn't is an appropriate term for a straight couple that sometimes swaps clothes, and using such a specific label to describe a seemingly gender binary-focused fashion trend is reductive, at best.