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The rise of gender-neutral fashion – and how labels should be reacting now
Recent years have seen an increasingly intensified questioning of long-adhered-to gender norms across broader society – and at this particular fashion digital marketing agency, we see that as a very good thing.
It is certainly a tendency that is filtering through to the relationships that many of us have with fashion – but there is also the no-less-urgent question of the approaches that fashion brands are best advised to take in response.
So much more than merely the ‘Harry Styles’ effect
When many of us who may not have the most intimate familiarity with gender-neutral fashion are reminded of it, we might immediately picture some of the public figures who have most famously toyed with notions of what men and women ‘should’ wear.
Consider, as examples, the actor and singer Billy Porter’s fondness for donning ballgowns to red-carpet events, or how Harry Styles provoked a response from seemingly everyone over his appearance in Vogue in 2020, wearing a Gucci dress.
As if to demonstrate that the latter act was far from a mere one-off designed to attract social media comments and shares, Styles has gone on to embrace womenswear pieces in concert and music videos, for the further appreciation of millions.
It would be easy for some observers to confuse this rejection of strongly gendered ‘blue is for boys, pink is for girls’ thinking with the matter of gender identity. The fact is that many fashionistas of any gender simply happen to favour garments and aesthetics that they might not have had the same confidence and freedom to wear if they were still constrained by the gender norms of times past.
Sure enough, according to research findings released last year, almost eight in 10 (79%) of Generation Z students were not deterred from the notion of purchasing clothing assigned to the opposite gender, and 64% said they had bought attire for themselves that was marketed for the opposite sex.
Should your own fashion brand adopt a gender-neutral ethos?
In light of statistics like the aforementioned, this might seem a well-justified move for some labels – indeed, gender-neutral collections have already been introduced previously by the likes of H&M and Zara. And at the very least, many brands are now contemplating how they can begin to incorporate nods to unisex design and inclusive sizing across their collections.
However, the question of precisely what steps to take towards communicating gender neutrality with their offerings might be a rather more complex one for some labels.
Your brand may be eager to gear itself more effectively towards younger consumers by taking on more overtly gender-neutral looks. However, even if you do like the idea of this route, it is important that any such collections also reflect the other styles and interests of your target demographic, and don’t depend on simply offering gender neutrality for its own sake.
The latter might seem merely performative – in turn, potentially alienating the very consumers to which you are seeking to appeal.
With gender fluidity representing not just another ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ style trend, but instead reflecting many younger customers’ strongly held attitudes and interests, it is a change that is seemingly built to last.
It is equally important to acknowledge, however, that an overtly gender-neutral approach could pose a risk for some brands of turning off some audiences – particularly of older generations – who prefer to shop by gender-specific departments, whether online or offline.
The overall trend, though, is of customers across the age groups increasingly adopting a more ‘genderblind’ approach to their discovery and appreciation of fashions. And that is something every end of the fashion sector seems to be adapting to, as the wider world comes to not just tolerate, but accept much greater fluidity across genders.
Would you like to discuss with our own fashion digital marketing agency how your brand might shift into a more unisex ethos across its collections and marketing in the months and years ahead? If so, you are very welcome to get in touch with our own ecommerce, development, and growth specialists at Skywire London.
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