Friday, November 07, 2014

Unisex Fashion: from Art to Gender Equality

Freedom of expression and gender equality has been part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for more than 60 years, and the Fashion Industry is finally taking a step to promote these ideals. The unisex garment market has been growing fast in the past few years, and fashion seems to become more about art than about gender. Fashion is examining the gender differences, focusing more in the creativity, but also reflecting changes in social mentality. Unisex fashion is a representation of a greater freedom of self-expression, but it is also showing that the ideal of gender equality is getting stronger in society.

Fashion is an art that is created from the self-expression of different thoughts, feelings, tastes, ideals or personalities. Unisex clothing promotes the freedom of self-expression from the designer to the consumer point of view by breaking the chains that bind us to the fashion categories of men’s or women’s. No matter whether we are creating fashion or we are wearing it, fashion is part of our daily life, so it should give us the opportunity to express who we are or how we feel without limitations. Unisex fashion has opened the doors to the designers creativity by giving them the option to create without the gender wall in their way.

For a few decades there have been few garments like jeans and tees that could be consider unisex, but today there are entire collections of clothes that can be worn either by him or her. Currently there is no need to go far to find unisex clothes, you can easily find them on-line or in a store like PARLOQUE or Untitled & Co, both based in the core of Toronto. The experience in a store that goes beyond the old gender norms is similar to the feeling of being unleashed, free to say or to do whatever you want. Gender-neutral stores are just about enjoying fashion by celebrating yourself with confidence, comfort and pleasure. Amrita Gill, the owner of PARLOQUE, has perfectly brought this atmosphere to her store.

PARLOQUE has a variety of brands that offers Unisex Styles like KYE, or Willis Chan a Toronto’s young designer. Analyzing some unisex clothes and accessories it is clear that by erasing the gender limits the designs become more unique, out-of-the-box and focused on the details. Gill comments that unisex garments can be a blend of minimalism, but there is a detail orientation in finishing, unique collars or asymmetric cuts. I have no doubt that gender-free fashion is bringing  art closer to fashion lovers.

However, unisex fashion is more than a personal choice; it is the mirror of a current social phenomenon. The introduction of gender neutrality to our wardrobes is just the tip of a much bigger movement. Gill explains how younger generations are more comfortable experimenting with clothes regardless their gender categories. These younger generations are more open-minded as they have been educated by principles that are concern about equality of gender and opportunities. The youngest generations have grown under a mentality based on respect and union between both genders, so it is not a surprise that fashion will also represent these new concepts.

Gender-free fashion is definitely showing that there is a confident communication between both genders, and also that society is considering the opinion and criteria of both sides. Amrita confirms that gender barriers are coming down, probably leading to the end of patriarchy mentality, and offering a much wide variety of opportunities to both genders. Unisex fashion is helping to teach the youngest about gender equality, but it is also giving to the oldest the option to learn and be part of it. The oldest ones may be more reluctant to get involved of the unisex fashion, but they are still being part of society, so they may have to participate even if it is in a subtly way.

Society is in a process of transition where men and women are trying to put aside their differences, therefore the Fashion Industry has to be adapted to it in order to satisfy designers and consumers. As an example of it in an interview in of December 2009 Rad Hourani said: “I could never find the kind of clothes I wanted to wear, either in men's or women's, so I made ​​a collection for myself." Rad is a Canadian fashion designer, and he was the first to show a unisex clothing line at the Paris Haute Couture in 2007. So it seems clear that unisex fashion is talking loud about the changes on gender roles.

Unisex fashion is not just a niche, but the result of an evolution towards a world free of gender discrimination. Gender equality was a dream that it is finally becoming true. Consequently, unisex fashion is demonstrating to the world that some dreams are more than illusions, and we just have to fight to make them come true. From an artistic view, fashion is announcing a new era that will go beyond gender setting people free to show  who they truly are.

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