written by Lauren Farnoosh
Fashion has always been a reflection of society and current culture. When looking at trends and themes in fashion, it’s important to ask ourselves what and why is this showing up. What does it mean for where we are going as a culture? The last few years have seen a huge shift in the definition of gender and sexual identity, and with that has come to a wave of the mainstream world attempting to make sense and adjust as well. Suddenly, the ideals of masculinity and femininity are being called into question as well. What does it really mean to be masculine? What defines a woman’s femininity? Are our culture’s ideals of men and women even healthy or realistic? More than ever, there’s a huge attempt to represent and cater to people who stand outside the boxes of conventional gender norms and the fashion world is taking notice.
Not since the social movements of the 60’s and 70’s has gender and gender roles been at such the forefront of the topic. It was during this time that previously accepted social conventions were being broken— subsequently, fashion was doing the same. In a world where men and women were breaking out of their clearly defined and constricting roles, non-gender specific clothing had suddenly become widely popular. Women were wearing denim and pants in public for the first time, while men were growing their hair out and sporting blouses. While it may not seem very revolutionary to those of us growing up today, it was a huge step away from the more traditional ways men and women were expected to be in the decades before.
Similarly today, the ideals of femininity and masculinity are being redefined and questioned once again as they were in the 60’s and 70’s. A new topic of conversation regarding the unhealthy machismo image of masculinity has been running around the internet. Masculinity has long been portrayed in an emotionally aloof way that leaves no room for a reasonable understanding of one’s self and is emotionally repressive. Men have been conditioned by our culture’s unhealthy definition of masculinity to never express any range of normal human emotion beyond anger, lust or indifference. Having emotions and being able to identify and appropriately express them should not take away from the strength and masculinity of a man. Having emotions is inherently human and natural. Knowing how to identify, understand and utilize emotions of one’s self and others is not only healthy, but a great social skill to possess. Many of today’s most successful businesses and business leaders see emotional intelligence as a highly valuable asset in business and the workforce. Men are human, and as humans should be able to have feelings and emotions without being seen as weak. Emotions are not solely a feminine experience, they are a human experience.
While men are being given more room for emotion and expression, women are also trying to figure out how they too can be accepted by society. Women today have progressed leaps and bounds since the time of the civil rights movement, but modern feminism still has a lot of work to do. The woman’s role as a subservient caretaker and a sexualized object is still very much embedded in the DNA of American culture. Women in today’s world face the challenge of having to choose between being sexually appealing or respected as a professional. It’s this idea that a woman who is beautiful and sexual cannot also be intelligent and distinguished; they are seen as opposing traits. It’s this ridiculous notion that a woman can’t be sexually desirable and also have a respectable opinion or point of view; one trait is not an indication of the other.
Post-gender and gender-neutral fashion is a visual commentary of our society attempting to understand and embrace a new post-gender and sexually fluid world. It doesn’t restrict people to the previously limited definitions of man and woman. With this can come a new understanding of what it means to be a woman or a man without the stigmas and societal roles attached to them.
Some of the biggest new female models are ones with shaved heads like Adwoa Aboah and Slick Woods. They’ve been gracing the covers of almost every major magazine and have become faces for countless brand campaigns. In the meantime, many of the biggest designers are creating collections that are intended to be worn by both men and women. Everyone from mass-market mega giants like Zara and H&M to the designer and luxury houses like Gucci, Calvin Klein, and Vivienne Westwood are hopping on board.
Fashion is visually showcasing how gender can expand so far beyond a feminine and sexually glorified woman or an aggressively dominant male. It’s creating this revolution of acceptance and understanding of the individual. You can be who and how you genuinely feel without it being taboo or questionable. Ultimately, who you are shouldn’t be defined by what you wear— fashion and style are simply tools for the expression of self. Seeing the progression of fashion towards gender neutrality is a minor preview of where we are heading as a society. It’s a preview of a society of individuals living in their truth.
Camo vest – Fade to Black from Infinite Sf shop
Pink floral shirt – Julien David
Tiger chucks – Gucci
Side zipper jeans black – MYOB from Eros Mortis shop
Black overalls – Damage from Eros Mortis shop
Pink Ruffle Skirt – Marques Almeida
Black paisley shirt – Supreme (vintage) from Infinite SF shop
Pink shirt – Supreme (vintage) from Infinite SF
Ruffle collar shirt – Shrimps
Flamingo Button up – Supreme (vintage) from Infinite SF shop
Red Paisely button up shirt – Supreme (vintage) from Infinite SF
Sad sweatshirt – Mary Jane Nite from Eros Mortis shop
Camo skirt- Marc Jacobs
Red Shoes – Gucci
Disco body harness – Santa Maria
Chambray shirt – Marc Jacobs
Denim jacket – MYOB
Jeans – MYOB
Shoes – Prada
Faux fur coat – Shrimps
Tupac Denim Jacket – Fade To Black from Infinite SF
Shorts – Leather Tongue by Emily Payne
Panthers Shorts – WIA from Eros Mortis shop
Black embellished leather bomber – A Bathing Ape (vintage) from Infinite SF shop
Poncho – Julien David
Gummy bear choker – Pet Shops Girl from Eros Mortis Shop
Charles Schoenberger – Photographer @chuckee100
Melissa Wagner – Hair @agentbossyboots
Brooke Williams – Makeup @makeupbybean
Lauren Farnoosh – Styling @laurenfarn__sh
Jackson Rhodes – Model @republicofsteez