Can androgynous fashion help us move a step closer towards achieving a Gender-Equal society?
“I think that fashion, for a long time, has been in a prison. Without freedom. I think that without freedom, with rules, it’s impossible to create a new story.” — Alessandro Michele
What does Androgynous Fashion exactly mean? Why is this term so much in use for the past few years?
Androgynous fashion refers to the donning of clothes and accessories in such a way that it avoids creating a distinction between masculine or feminine physical characteristics and to express non-binary gender identity. In other words, it refers to fashion that is neither feminine nor masculine but gender-inclusive and sexually neutral, hence creating a genderfluid fashion.
Aesthetic androgyny arguably originates from the desire not to be wanting to be bounded or limited by how the society tells their gender is supposed to be. It conveys the message to have the freedom of deciding according to one’s own wish what to wear and what not to wear.
Fashion, however, is one of the very few industries where being queer or homosexual has ceased to be an issue. Recently, we can see the visibility of a large number of transgender/queer/homosexual and non-binary models in the mainstream fashion industry. Fashion surely has become one of the most proximate tools for both men and women to explore and express more about their sexual identity.
Paul Poiret & Coco Chanel are considered to be among the first very few pioneers to introduce Androgynous Fashion Style to the fashion industry. In the 1900s Coco Chanel designed trousers that could be worn by women. After this, many liberation movements in the 1900s liberated women to wear comfortable clothes which allowed free body movement. The 1960s saw a great change in women breaking free from their rigid gender standards but it was also time for men to loosen out of the gender stereotypes and discover their identity.
Elvis Presley was among the first pioneers who not only introduced androgyny in men’s attire but also to the Rock n Roll fashion. His pretty face and the use of eye make-up made people think of him as an “effeminate” guy. Androgyny fashion has motivated many men to step out of their arena of the masculinity standards set by society and explore their identity through fashion.
“There are no rules” — Mary-Kate Olsen
In India, we can witness the androgyny fashion not only in Western Fashion but also in some of our Authentic Traditional Fashion too. For example- The Mundu or the Lungi wore predominantly by the men of South India is similar to a feminine skirt. Kurtas and Salwars are worn by men and women equally. The Nauvari Saree worn by women of Maharashtra is draped in a similar way to that of the male dhoti.
Many global brands are slowly introducing androgynous collections to their line of fashion. Some of the examples are — Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Zara, etc.
Zara recently introduced an “Ungendered” range of apparel under its Trafulac line. In 2019, Louis Vuitton organized a fashion show in which it introduced its first-ever gender-neutral collection.
Social media websites and apps like Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, etc have a plethora of influencers who are revealing and promoting the trend of gender-fluid fashion. Indian fashion influencers like Komal Pandey, Siddharth Batra, Malkeet Singh, and many more. Global Fashion influencers like Jamie Windust, Vick Franco, Eli Erlick, and many more have inspired a lot of people to explore their identities in depth through fashion.
Androgynous fashion is gaining popularity amongst the people. Soon will be gone the days when people had to dress up according to the set standards of society. Fashion and comfort will be taken forward in sync. Johnny Johanson founder of ACNE said, “I have seen this generation’s attitude to fashion where the cut, the shape and the character of the garment is the crucial thing, rather than seeking approval from the society or following the set norms.”
“Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.” — Alexander McQueen