Finding Clothes, and Identity, Outside Men’s and Women’s Wear


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“I would like to see anybody wearing my clothes, and I do mean anybody.”

— Claire Fleury, a clothier who creates clothes for all genders


When a buddy of mine was looking for her marriage ceremony look a number of years again, she wished a pointy, tailor-made swimsuit. She went to a well-known males’s clothier in New York’s Financial District, whose workers finally laughed her out of the shop, a humiliation she nonetheless carries along with her.

Today, her choices could be plentiful by comparability as extra mainstream clothes corporations swiftly rise to satisfy the calls for of a altering cliental — providing gender-bending, gender-fluid and gender-neutral clothes. As Ken Downing, the style director of Neiman Marcus, as soon as advised The Times: “What we’re seeing now is a seismic shift in fashion, a widening acceptance of a style with no boundaries — one that reflects the way young people dress.”

Market analysis helps that shift, displaying adjustments in factors of view on gender amongst Gen Z customers. Some 38 % of this group, born in 1995 and after, stated they “strongly agree” that “gender doesn’t define a person as much as it used to,” as my colleague Ruth La Ferla reported final week.

[READ MORE: Beyond ‘Queer’ Fashion]

Also, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a trade group of about 500 leading American designers, last year added the first unisex and nonbinary category to the New York Fashion Week calendar.

Of course, unisex (and androgenous, for that matter) are not new terms when it comes to fashion. Women, particularly those with taller and slimmer builds, have long been able to shop for men’s clothes. But for curvaceous women (like my friend), men who want to escape rigid masculine aesthetics and transgender people who may be adapting to a changing body, choices have been all but nonexistent.

Not to mention how winding through the men’s and women’s sections in traditional stores can be an exercise in anxiety and awkwardness for L.G.B.T.Q. people. Even Uniqlo and Muji, known to offer more gender-free looks, and H&M and Zara, which have presented gender-neutral items, continue to divide garments into men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’.

The Phluid Project, an outpost of gender-neutral fashion in Lower Manhattan, and shops like it have no gender-based sections. “The style is all about identity and unfettered self-expression,” said Rob Smith, its founder.



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