People have often worn outfits that fall outside traditional gender categories, from women preferring a looser-fit men’s shirt to Billy Porter’s combination suit jacket and ballgown at the 2019 Oscars, but the last few years have seen a huge increase in the number of people embracing a more relaxed approach to gender in clothing. Rob Smith, founder of ‘gender free fashion brand’ The Phluid Project, identified that 56% of Gen Z were already shopping ‘outside their assigned gender area’ in 2019, while global fashion shopping platform Lyst has also found that overall searches involving ‘agender-related keywords’ such as androgynous and gender-neutral have increased by 33% in 2021.
With the public looking to blur the boundaries between ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ clothes, the fashion industry is following suit. Although smaller brands like The Phluid Project have been using gender-neutral practices for several years, more well-known and luxury brands are also starting to embrace the change. Fashion shows are casting more diverse groups of models to represent all parts of their collection, and in 2018, the Council of Fashion Designers of America added an official ‘unisex/non-binary’ category to New York Fashion Week. When it comes to some of our favourite labels, brands like Pangaia are using gender-neutral sizes on all of their products, while others like Adidas, Nique, and Stride have introduced specific gender-neutral collections. Some brands have taken things one step further, doing away with ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ collections completely in favour of presenting all of their products as clothes that anyone can wear.
Retailers and brands should be looking at gender-fluid apparel as an opportunity … It will definitely be impacting the fashion trends of the future.
The popularity of gender-neutral clothing is a huge win for nonbinary people, who often don’t feel comfortable wearing clothes that are assigned to one gender, but it’s also great for people who identify as a man or a woman but don’t want to feel restricted around what that means they ‘should’ wear. If you’re looking to shop for clothes without having to fit yourself into a box, we’ve compiled a list of the best brands specifically designed to be gender neutral (and that ship to Australia!).
Lonely Kids Club was established in Sydney in early 2011 to create clothes that focused on individuality and personality rather than gender. Their range of quirky shirts, dresses, pants, and accessories are sewn locally in small batches and printed to order so they can ensure a high ethical standard and minimise waste.
One DNA is an independent small business in New York City that seeks to ‘break down the boundary between womenswear and menswear without sacrificing style’. They have a range of comfortable shirts, jumpers, hats, and pants with empowering graphics, all made from organic and recycled fabrics.
re—inc was founded in 2019 by US Women’s National Soccer Team champions Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, and Christen Press to create a global community of people who want to make change. Their clothes have individual size guides so you can find the right fit based on the style of each garment rather than relying on standard gender categories.
Riley Studio is a UK-based brand known for innovative solutions that use waste and organic materials to craft gender-free clothing essentials. For them, designing clothes without gendered limits is not only about creating a more progressive world, but also about extending the usability and lifespan of each item so they can minimise harm to the planet.
IJJI create a wide range of clothes, from relaxed knit tees to formal work trousers, that allow people of any gender to look suave and stylish. Although the label takes their name from the Japanese word イージーパンツ, meaning any loose-fitting drawstring pants, their manufacturing process is entirely based in California, with a focus on natural fibres and interesting colours.
It’s refreshing to see brands changing the way they approach designing and marketing clothes to keep up with current ideas around gender. The fashion world of the future focuses less on whether particular garments are meant for men or for women and more on ensuring you can find clothes that make you feel good, regardless of who you are.
For more progressive fashion, check out our essential guide to sustainable and ethical t-shirts.