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In recent years we’ve seen that androgynous – also known as genderless or unisex – fashion has become increasingly important, due to the growing claims of freedom to dress in clothes that, according to “the norm”, are gender ambiguous. We’ve seen celebrities like Harry Styles defy the masculine standard dress code for his Vogue cover by wearing a Gucci dress. Although we can say that this trend is relatively recent, if we look back in time, we can find the beginnings of this feminine/masculine combination concept. Well – known designers such as Coco Chanel introduced trousers for women and tweeds combining feminine details with masculine patterns.
What started as a revolutionary trend on the catwalks and aimed at an adult audience, is now making its way into kidswear. With gender reveal parties on the rise, gender categories for children have become more rigid than ever before. Whether it’s toys, books, TV programmes or clothes, everything seems to be pink or blue. Of course, from a business perspective, this makes sense, as they somehow ensure that their sales are doubled. However, children’s fashion says enough is enough by welcoming unisex clothes that pave way to a whole new world of self – expression and a neutral concept of gendered identities.
A symbol for inclusion and diversity, according to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion industry, the term of unisex clothing originated in the 1960s and refers to clothing specifically designed to be worn by both sexes. The trend arose in response to the youth revolution and the hippie movement of the 1960s and the women’s liberation movement of the early 1970s. Designers such as Pierre Cardin and especially Rudi Gernreich designed clothes that challenged the clichés of male and female dress that later gave way to the androgynous look.
In other words, garments that everyone can enjoy regardless of their gender. In the world of children’s clothing, it means getting rid of the traditional concept of pink for girls and blue for boys. This allows kids to just be kids and focus on developing their own self by playing and not setting colour related boundaries. Moreover, gender neutral clothing embodies minimalism, natural colours, styles and tones focusing on functionality rather than the decorative side of fashion.
According to The Simple Folk, a community and shop made by two mothers and friends, switching to a gender – neutral wardrobe is a win – win for kids, parents, and the planet itself. It discourages imposed stereotypes that could potentially impact the child’s development. They get to express who they are from a very young age; parents don’t impose a roadmap on who to be, children themselves can choose what to wear and how to express their true self.
As we mentioned before, thanks to the unisex clothing’s focus on functionality, children’s movements are not restricted, and they can play as they please without worries. The simplicity of the garments supports and empowers the senses allowing children to tune in with discovering the world around them. Besides, it’s budget – friendly. It’s a fact that kids outgrow their clothes in the blink of an eye, and it’s not that unisex clothing will grow with them, but that the pieces can be used for their siblings or shared with other friends who need them. Thus, gender neutral clothing is kinder to the environment: less throwaway means less waste in landfills and less of a manufacturing carbon footprint.
Genderless kidswear doesn’t have to be the rule, but it certainly offers a freeing and more sustainable lifestyle. The rise of this type of clothing represents a growing global societal change with a positive impact. The goal is to let them lead the way on who they want to be and how they want to express it, without imposed rules or limits. Their sense of self begins to be built during childhood and it is important to provide them with tools such as genderless clothing, so that they can develop in complete freedom and confidence.