By Kwamesha Joseph
Traditionally, when scrolling through your favorite clothing website, there are two separate tabs for men’s and women’s apparel. Now, however, New York Fashion Week has showcased that many brands might be diminishing the line of demarcation between those tabs for people who have no preference of one over the other, and for those who use fashion to challenge social conformity and the gender binary that exists in fashion.
New York Fashion Week had everyone buzzing about the prevalence of genderless fashion after a number of designers, including designer Palomo Spain, showcased clothing that challenge ideas of what is conventionally described as either “masculine” or “feminine.”
This is the same kind of buzz that Jaden Smith generated when he appeared all over social media in clothing that is traditionally worn by women just a few months ago. All of the speculation about the trend has come to fruition through the most anticipated time of the year for designers and fashion lovers alike – New York Fashion Week.
In a March article published by The Business of Fashion, it was shown that women’s clothing is usually much more expensive than men’s clothing. Researchers compared the same articles of clothing articles between both men and women of the same designer, and found that there was a striking price difference between the two.
In a preceding study released in December by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, it was found that women pay almost 8 percent more than men do for the same kinds of clothing. The Business of Fashion article referred to this hike in the prices as “the pink tax,” which is “the idea that the women’s version of a product costs more than the men’s version.”
While using the color pink in order to describe women in relation to something else might have been a lucid distinction before, the rise of social movements that challenge society’s long-established notions of gender definitely changes that coherence, and such phrases might not be as telling now as it might have been some time ago.
In an interview on “All Things Considered,” Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan explained that, “the idea is that a lot of the traditional notions that we associate with a particular gender – male or female – are now being offered for the opposite gender.” In other words, certain patterns and styles of clothing that are generally associated with either men or women will no longer limit the kinds of designs one might begin to see on each.
Robin Givhan did make it clear in the interview, however, that there will not be complete disappearance of the aforementioned men and women tabs that one would normally see on their favorite clothing website. She explains that as a number of designers specialize in either men or women’s apparel, the distinction between the two will indeed perpetuate.
She says that what was exhibited at New York Fashion Week “differs from what we tend to think of as androgynous dressing because it’s not meant to delete the notion of gender. It’s meant to mix it up.” For this reason, one can anticipate a kind of symmetry beginning to evolve in the kinds of descriptions originally used to delineate both men and women’s clothing.
While there is some opposition that exists towards genderless clothing, many people believe that this is good thing for men, women and others who do not fit the “traditional” body types that many designers cater to.
When asked about her opinion on genderless clothing, Eliana Alvarez, FCRH ’18 exclaimed, “I think it’s great. I love the idea that there are no limitations placed on clothing. People can wear whatever they want, however they want to wear it.”
The current social and political climate has been said to influence many of the designers in New York Fashion Week. Millennials are challenging the notions of masculinity and femininity, the kinds of conventions that are associated with each and surfacing the long ignored fact that not every individual identifies with either of the binaries.
These challenges to social conformity have been reflected in many aspects of society, and New York Fashion Week is another one to add to the list.