Genderless Clothing Isn’t The Future – It’s Already Here

Today, Stella McCartney launches her first 'Shared' collection, designed to be worn by all genders. But she's not the only one doing it...

Jin Jia Ji Stella McCartney Shared

The most stylish people in the world are in on a secret: the rules do not apply. Rather than prescriptively following the arbitrary diktats commonly dished out in the name of ‘style advice’, they unapologetically do thing their own way. Jeans after dark? Go for it. Visible underwear? The floor is yours. Pink with red, leopard with lizard, socks with sandals? Why the hell not?

Bearing this ‘anything goes’ spirit, it’s a wonder we’re still making the distinction between womenswear and menswear departments at all. Certainly our favourite fashion icons are refusing to. Just look at Harry Styles in a canary yellow Marc Jacobs suit from the designer’s SS20 women’s collection at this year’s Brit Awards, or Kate Moss, Kim Kardashian and Naomi Campbell in Dior Men.

This week, Stella McCartney is the latest designer to join the genderless revolution with her Stella McCartney Shared capsule. The collection, described as ‘a wearable, bold, relevant edit of luxurious urban styles easily worn by men and women’ is ‘a youthful, genderless exploration of a collective (sub)culture linked by similar styles and Stella’s activist values’. You can expect logo-hoodies, shirts with illustrated prints by comic-book artist Will Sweeney and perfect tailored jackets and trenches (all made from eco-conscious materials, naturally).

Jin Jia Ji Stella McCartney Shared
Stella McCartney's Genderless Collection ©Jin Jia Ji

Genderless clothing feels particularly prescient now. It’s a message being transmitted on the catwalks too: for Gucci’s AW20 menswear collection, the male models wore babydoll dresses. At Hedi Slimane’s AW20 Celine show, knife-sharp tailoring swaggered down the catwalk on both men and women – the same pieces will be available in both collections. And why not? A great jacket is a great jacket, end of story.

‘We have seen a shift in the fashion world where everything is a lot more relaxed and inclusive, people are more comfortable fully expressing themselves through clothing. We are having fun blurring that gender line,’ says Ola Alabi, founder and creative director of Cold Laundry, whose slouchy crepe suiting and soft, patch-pocket shackets are a working-from-home dream.

Gucci's menswear collection for AW20 featured babydoll dresses
Gucci's menswear collection for AW20 featured babydoll dresses

‘The way we think about gender is changing and, in a recent study, 30% of Gen Z identified as gender neutral,’ explains Riley Uggla, founder of eco-conscious unisex brand Riley Studio. ‘We are seeing a move towards greater acceptance of gender as a non-defining term. So why should our clothes identify us in this way?’ There’s also a sustainable argument to be made: ‘Gender neutral clothing allows us to reduce the production of unnecessary garments by focusing on timeless pieces that can be styled by people of all genders and ages. We believe in individuality, which is why we set out to design without gender in mind. Style knows no boundaries, and neither should we.'

Certainly the demand is there. She might be known for the off-kilter cool of her knockout dresses, but Rejina Pyo decided to launch a genderless collection earlier this year after noticing men wearing her designs or begging her to make them in their size. ‘The result is a slightly more pared back version of Rejina Pyo but still incorporating those signature elements,’ explains the designer, who used her husband as a resource during the development stages. ‘I wanted the collection to feel laid back and easy to wear, to express that feeling when you throw on your partner's shirt or coat but it looks amazing on you as well.'

Understandably, you might be nervous around issues of fit, but stick with it. The easiest way to work it is to stick to laidback, loose-fit designs. ‘Fortunately we haven’t faced many issues as our pieces feature an oversized, relaxed and contemporary fit, which flatters many body types,’ says Cold Laundry’s Ola.

‘There are a lot of assumptions that gender neutral clothing won’t work for someone because it isn’t specifically designed for their body shape,’ admits Riley. ‘But there really aren’t as many differences as people may think in the construction of a garment, and everyone’s body shape is different. Fit has always been a challenge for us as a gender-neutral brand, particularly as we are trying to create design-led pieces, rather than just focusing on offering the more relaxed loungewear styles. We come up against our toughest hurdles on pieces such as a more classic chino trouser, where the rise differs depending on the gender. While it is a challenge, we look at it as an opportunity to be innovative in our designs.'

Gender-neutral, womenswear, menswear, if you can squeeze into it, even childrenswear, the memo now is that it doesn’t really matter at all. Just wearing something because you love it? Well that’s probably the only style ‘rule’ any of us should care about in 2020.


SHOP: Genderless Clothing Gems

Riley Studio, Classic loose-fit organic-cotton shirt, £1601 of 7

Riley Studio, Classic loose-fit organic-cotton shirt, £160

Stella McCartney, Graphic print trousers, £6752 of 7

Stella McCartney, Graphic print trousers, £675

Rejina Pyo, Spencer Jacket Cotton Canvas Burgundy - UNISEX, £5253 of 7

Rejina Pyo, Spencer Jacket Cotton Canvas Burgundy - UNISEX, £525

Stella McCartney, Logo-print sweatshirt, £3954 of 7

Stella McCartney, Logo-print sweatshirt, £395

Rejina Pyo, Leo Shirt Linen Print Hawaiian Khaki - UNISEX, £2955 of 7

Rejina Pyo, Leo Shirt Linen Print Hawaiian Khaki - UNISEX, £295

Rejina Pyo, Logan Coat Coated Shiny Twill Black, £7506 of 7

Rejina Pyo, Logan Coat Coated Shiny Twill Black, £750

RILEY STUDIO, Organic cotton pocket shorts, £1657 of 7

RILEY STUDIO, Organic cotton pocket shorts, £165

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