Outside The Binary Box
How fashion today reflects social & cultural influences.
From co-ed shows to unisex collections, the ever evolving industry of fashion is not only opening itself to changing faces, but is also on the path to liberation from gender based norms. Always synonymous to clothing, the industry plays a bigger role as a reflection of the society and its culture. Acting as a mirror of change for the society, fashion represents ideological changes. Picking up traces of evolution and creating a path for revolution, the industry has sourced its image as a rebel to induce individuality and empowerment.
Honestly, a shirt on the runway is never just a shirt! It speaks volume on the trend; whether it's up-coming or current, the mood of the show and the message sent across in the collection. Clothes play a role in social significance, especially in an era where media and technology keeps the world in sync constantly. An expressive and powerful platform to reach the audience, the industry has offered exposure to a mix of cultural influences.
Change Where Art Thou?
A recent interview with Alok Menon, questioned the fact that the industry just likes the “aesthetic of diversity” and not an actual change. But change can be seen, it may not be a complete 360, but its taking place slowly and leaving its imprint. One of the most prominent examples might be the Louis Vuitton’s SS19 men’s collection, where some of the men’s designs were modelled by women. Designers have somehow opened up to the idea of creating genderless fashion. From Gucci to Bottega Vanetta and Haider Ackermann to JW Anderson, 2019 saw luxury houses opting for co-ed shows.
The combination of menswear and womenswear silhouettes on the runway was a reflection of today’s society’s need for change and their vision of inclusivity and diversity. Adding to the list, Versace will also be presenting a co-ed show for its Fall/winter 2020-21 collection. This stand of the fashion houses speaks volume on how it's about being equal even on the runway!
Today, the world is a little different. Though women have always been comfortable wearing men’s clothes, men have also opened up to the idea of buying women’s fashion. Whether it’s accessories for men or culottes, 2019 has seen a new adaptation in men’s fashion. Gen Z, which is reluctant to abide by labels, is shattering perceptions of masculinity and femininity.
Maison Margiela’s September show presented a short film on a trans female model raised as a male and her take on the fashion world. The point was to erase the gender based presumptions and he did so successfully by presenting trans women, whose characteristics read as male, styled liberally with heels and dresses and vice versa.
Another adaptation was sustainability in fashion
Eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable, an addition to the industry’s agenda and a wake-up call for designers and brands to understand the role they play in this. A spotlight was shown on Stella McCartney for her decade of work in sustainability and ethical clothing by not using anything leather, fur or PVC in her collections started a series of change that caused self-reflection and awareness on the issues.
To support the movement and reflect social change, the fashion industry played its role by creating environmentally conscious decisions. Look no further than fast fashion brand H&M, who created a leather jacket and cowboy boots using Piñatex, which is a leather-like material made from the leaves that are normally discarded in the production of pineapples!
It's safe to say that in an industry like fashion, a considerable leap is being taken towards eradicating labels and empowering change. They are small steps, but steps in the right way. Can we all agree on staying on this path?