Understanding Genderless Fashion and the Freedom of Expression
For the past several years, freedom of expression has been a mere concept that was easier said and practiced within a laid out framework of social existence. On an individual level, many of us have the freedom to voice our opinions within our social circles, but today, with data privacy and concerns over security, it makes one question what it means to have the right to express oneself with data mining so rampant and the blatant snooping by powers that be. In the light of today’s digital era where data leaks have become almost normal, it makes one wonder about whether we really have and can exercise our freedom of expression and at what cost.
Why is freedom of expression so important?
It deserves mention that the freedom of speech and expression is our fundamental human right. It reinforces and sets the ground for all the other rights that are fundamental to our existence. Without the ability to freely express our thoughts, there’s very little scope for action that will bring about change. Without the right to express, we’re reduced to mere puppets harbouring a deadly silence, leaving society stagnant and lacking in depth.
When it comes to freedom of expression, one of the dominant areas where we can and we do openly express ourselves and our delineations is through clothing and through the social performativity that clothing renders. Think of our bodies as the slate, and our choice of clothing as the colours on a palette that come together to create a walking piece of art. Of course, it begs to mention that this isn’t the way everyone approaches fashion - for some it’s a mundane piece of survival, for others it’s a comfort or a discomfort that they’ve gotten used to, but for many others, clothing means a lot more than just covering up of our bodies.
Marc Jacobs, a prominent fashion designer who’s made a name for himself, says of fashion and clothing, “Clothing is a form of self-expression - there are hints about who you are in what you wear”. This couldn’t be truer. If you think about it, from a young age, it’s the clothes that you wear and the haircut you choose and the way you present yourself that lets the world in on a gender assumption. One isn’t born a gender, but one becomes one through the clothes they wear and the way they carry themselves in a manner that is commonly accepted. Clothing is hugely a way of revealing to the world the gender and personality one ascribes to, even if it may or may not not be the gender they were born with.
Understanding genderless fashion -
Genderless fashion is a spectrum of fashion that isn’t bound by the dual notions of gender. It is fashion that has thrown open the bracket of freedom of expression and challenges the norm and through nonconformity. One chooses to wear what they wish to, and clothes transcend mere binaries of a gender that they may or may not prescribe to (if they prescribe to one at all); it embraces a fluidity of self-expression. Be it a man, woman or queer, genderless fashion throws open the doorway of expression and does so boldly with no regard for the norm. In genderless fashion, clothing is predominantly non-binary, as in, it falls outside of the set limitations of binary genders. It’s a space of complete and total gender nonconformity, but more a conformity of one’s own individuality.
The movement for genderless fashion began first at the beginning of the 20th century when fashion pioneers of the likes of Coco Chanel incorporated clothing from the men’s line into their own clothing style. That act was in itself a changing point in the conversation surrounding feminism and the women’s liberation movement. Even though there was a soft overlapping of what constituted masculine and feminine fashion before that, it began to gain speed as societies evolved and norms were constantly being redefined. According to Fashion Innovation, the interchangeability and fluidity of genders in fashion was thrown wide open when Andrej Pejic (now Andreja), a model, began to walk down runways for both men and women’s clothing lines. This act paved the way for a wider representation that transcended the boundaries of dual genders.
This does not go on to say that genderless fashion is for transgenders and crossdressers, but rather for anyone who does not prescribe to the set norms and limitations of gender. Through this slow evolution, we’ve witnessed a steady change in the landscape of fashion to make the space more inclusive, representing a broader community of individuals who don’t conform. And soon enough, both big and smaller brands followed suit making space for a brighter and more colourful palette of fashion.
Today, there are a league of artists, musicians and celebrities who may or may not conform to genders, yet style themselves in gender fluid clothing breaking the set ideas of how a man or a woman ought to dress. By doing that they’ve thrown open the possibilities of one’s existence in a postmodern world and continue to represent and make way for minorities.
The fight to get here wasn’t easy, and while we can boldly exercise the freedom and right to express ourselves, it bodes well to remember that the fight wasn’t easy and we’re reaping the rewards of many people before us who went through pain and torture for their dressing and their gender nonconforming standards.
Below we discuss some of the popular outfits in fashion that were once gender-biased, but have today made space for an interpretation that’s boldly heterogenous, non-binary and genderless.
Fashion that transcends gender and promotes gender-fluidity:
When you think of genderless fashion, one of the most common and accessible pieces of clothing that comes to mind is the t-shirt. Today, there’s no clear distinction between what constitutes a man’s t-shirt or a woman’s t-shirt as both have become interchangeable. A t-shirt doesn’t discriminate and nobody discriminates against it. Low necklines that were once characteristic of a woman’s t-shirt has now become so open-ended that you’ll find men, women, trans and the queer community tied by their common love for t-shirts. A t-shirt speaks of comfort more than it does one’s gender. The comfort in that is one of the reasons the t-shirt will never run out of style, but will be constantly defined, redefined and stylised.
Back in the day a woman wearing pants was a kind of rarity. Pants on women were a classist idea and women who wore it were looked down upon or instantly fit into a category. The pants were always considered a man’s piece of clothing, and in many communities today, it still is. Fast-forward to today and the interpretation of pants or trousers has been thrown wide open transcending the idea that it’s “menswear”. Trousers/ pants are today one of the most gender fluid pieces of clothing out there, one that a man, woman, trans or queer person can strut and not feel ashamed or be ostracised for it. We’ve come a long way in terms of fashion and it’s up for all to see the lines of gender being blurred knowingly or unknowingly.
Blazers took longer than pants to pop out of the boundaries of gender, but it did and how! Today, top fashion magazines of the world, top businesswomen, and even smaller business women find comfort in making blazers their go-to office attire. Blazers are played up as formals and also played down as casuals, a classic example of its own nonconformity. It goes unsaid that it isn’t a piece of clothing that decides its gender, but rather the wearer of a piece of clothing who decides what to do with it, and the possibilities of its interpretation.
When you think of heels, the first thing that comes to mind are women and their love for stilettos. It doesn’t matter that heels aren’t comfort wear, but the idea and impression it renders in the eye of the beholder that makes it a killer choice that will continue to be on the racks for years to come. But what’s more interesting is that today even men strut themselves in heels. It’s not a commonplace sighting, but many top brands and magazines, actors, and celebs have walked ramps making bold fashion statements in heels. It’s ironic because back in the day where horses were a main mode of getting from place to place, heels were worn by men and women. It’s heartening to see the trend return and to know that today both men and women brace themselves for the discomfort of a heel, all in the name of fashion.
When American actor Billy Porter made his first ever red carpet entry in a gown, the world went gaga. Soon after and many magazines, premiers and events later, it would be surprising if you don’t find Billy Porter strutting down in a gorgeous gown, heels and all. It was a huge moment for the community when the spotlight was laid on genderless fashion and why it needs to exist. Soon after, heartthrob Harry Styles followed suit and made waves for his bold fashion choices. Lewis Hamilton wore a lace gown to the Met Gala, and Lil Nas X wore a gown to the red carpet, not just once or twice, but several times now.
This interchange and fluidity in clothing may or may not have to do with one’s gender (that’s open to one’s interpretation), but it certainly blurs the binary lines that were laid out and signifies an intrepid return to old-time sartorial choices where gender fluidity in clothing was once the norm.
One can buy T-shirts in branded stores like Gap, HM, Levis and so on or consider custom made T-Shirts with your own design and message. Usually branded companies make at least 1-2 lakh T-shirts of the same design and sell them in their stores across the globe. Custom T-Shirts are one of their kind specially designed and printed for you. If custom T-shirts interest you, consider learning more about them at gubbacci - a custom t-shirt store.
You can visit our design Studio to design your own custom T-shirt. And you can also browse some best selling collections like Gender Equality T-shirts, Gender Expansion T-Shirts, Birthday T-shirt Collection, Anniversary T-shirt Collection,Stock Market Collection & Mental Health Collection.