Listen people, it’s 2022. Clothing really has no business being gender specific! Taking a look at the newest fashion lines coming out will give you a perfect example of clothing androgyny and the progression we have made in the past couple decades.
In today’s article I’m going to explain why gender neutral clothing is important. I will cover freedom of expression, some of the challenges with gender neutral lines, the stigma, and where I think the future lies.
This is not an article forcing you to wear gender-neutral clothing or to make you, as a woman, dress like a man or vice versa. It is only my opinion based on what I have seen during my time in the clothing industry and an alignment of what our store Diversity Consignment believes in within our core mission.
Freedom of expression
Freedom of expression can be defined as : You have the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of your choice without interference and regardless of frontiers.
I will define freedom of expression within the clothing industry as the following : The ability to express oneself freely, without restraints, and voluntarily, through the clothing you choose to dawn regardless of specific constraints. Side note: I am not a proponent of blatant disregard for the sensitivities of specific cultures or the use of historical garments for appropriation.
Freedom of expression, especially within the confinement of the United States is a beautiful thing that should be embraced. One of the simplest ways to express oneself is through the clothing that one wears. Want to dress in Crayola colors? Go for it! Want to wear a plaid skirt with Dr. Marten boots? I say, you better take a picture and send it to us so we can promote it!
Clothing should not have gender constraints. They take away the very principle of freedom of expression that has been founded.
Challenges with clothing binarity
One of the major difficulties a lot of men, in particular, may find when clothing shopping in a gender neutral environment is sizing constraints. You see a cute skirt that you want to try on, but find out that the sizing is only constrained to XXS-L in “women’s” sizing. As a 6’4″ 240lb guy that can be a real challenge! What are the options out there?
The same can be said for women. The clothing companies do not take into consideration body shapes, differences, and tastes. There should be no reason why a skirt is not manufactured for men’s bodies as well as women’s. In fact, men have historically worn skirts as well as heels!
The simple fact is this — people come in all shapes, sizes, and with different interests. It’s time for retailers to embrace this.
Another major challenge within the retail world is the stigma. It is challenging for opposing sexes to find a comfortable space where they can shop in the “other” section. There is a lot of separation between areas; men’s and women’s. When the general population sees a man in the women’s section they tend to do a lot of gawking and staring. That is super uncomfortable for that individual. The same can be said for women in the “men’s” section.
As we progress as a society, I must say, this is becoming less of an issue in specific geographical areas. The fact still remains that the stigma is continuously a huge issue that deserves recognition. Living in a diverse community of NYC will show a big difference in the stigma than an area in rural America. That is unfair for individual freedom of expression.
I want to explain a little bit about how clothing styles and sexuality corelate. They Don’t! Just because a man finds a certain blouse nice, does not mean that man is gay. If they are, great! Just because a woman is wearing a Carhartt top with Timberland boots does not mean that they are gay. It is simply an expression of taste through style. Period. Regardless, it’s honestly none of your business anyway so why should you even care??
The future of clothing androgyny
I, for one, am hopeful for the future of clothing and the elimination of stigma and judgement. I have already witnessed lines of bags and accessories that positively embrace gender neutrality. Many of the lines on the runway for 2022 showcase femme skirts on men as well as wide-leg “dad jeans” on women.
I am hopeful that more gender neutral environments will be opening up that decrease the divide. I really am not trying to be political in this article, as I believe that politics have nothing to do with freedom of expression and the comforts that should come with the concept.
We, at Diversity Consignment openly embrace gender neutrality and focus on creating a comfortable environment where men, women, and non-binary individuals can express themselves freely without judgement. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have seen burly, bearded men (prototypical essences of masculinity) trying on a dress and KILLING IT. I hope that we can continue in a progressive direction where everyone feels comfortable as a society.
-Much Love, Ian Drake – Diversity Consignment