Gender

There is a new wave of emphasis on agender couture in fashion, which exposes the shifting focuses designers are taking: shifting men’s and women’s garments towards fashion that holds no gender boundaries, whereby pieces of similar making can be worn by either gender.

What’s more, it isn’t just indie fashion houses pushing these boundaries, but major fashion brands too, like Louis Vuitton who recently released a new advert in this vein.

If you don’t know already, Jaden Smith appeared in a new advert for the major fashion house, which isn’t particularly remarkable information on its own. What was remarkable was that Jaden joined other renowned models chosen to represent Louis Vuitton’s new womenswear line – Jaden is seen in this campaign wearing a skirt.

In these modern times, gender-free clothing and advocating individuality are becoming a rite of passage and were two huge themes in 2015’s fashion. Jaden’s way of expressing gender as something fluid or without categorisation should bring nothing less than delight to on-lookers the world over.

This campaign shows more than just an outfit or a repeated trend, too: the fact that this popular and influential actor / rapper / style icon has revealed that he simply isn’t bothered what anyone else thinks about what clothes he chooses to wear is empowering for us all. This is a movement we all can take inspiration from.

Jaden Smith gender fashion Louis Vuitton stereotypes
Jaden Smith directed by Christiain Grey in the new SS16 Louis Vuitton ad campaign, photographed by Bruce Weber

Besides looking beautifully modelesque in oversized, savvy leather textures, punk-styled fringing and embellished platform loafers, this campaign also shows the power of clothing, regardless of the person’s sex or whether what they are wearing consists of what society has constructed as ‘standard’ – reminding us that expression, particularly in fashion, is divergent from gender.

In this way, what makes a person biologically male or female should not limit them on what he or she wants to wear; essentially, wearing skirt should not dictate gender – not in this campaign, not ever.

As a response, this campaign may shine light on the question of what gender is, and what it is defined by. Seeing men and women wearing what would stereotypically be classed as ‘uncommon’ for their apparent gender – women in tailored suits, and men in ‘feminine’ colours and oversized, dress-like shirts – is qualifying for everyone and their choices, whether they happen to be trans, cis, male, female or non-binary. Until recently, there have been relatively few role models making waves in this area – people like Grace Jones and the late David Bowie are the exceptions – but now gender seems less of a deciding factor on whether you ‘should’ be wearing trousers or dresses.

Juun-J-AW-2013 gender stereotypes

Even designer stores are jumping on this unisex fashion bandwagon, as high-end chain store, Selfridges, have proclaimed they aim to axe gender-assigned departments in favour of unisex sections based more on style, encouraging people to develop and embrace their own sense of self.

We can argue these changes are reflecting the rise in awareness of public sensitivity to the issue of gender and gender identity, that have been measured as once prohibited. More familiarly, women like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have transported transgender subject matters to the front of mainstream media, bringing about examples of how our current generation is gradually getting closer to the motion of, quite simply, being ourselves.

Appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair to bare all for the world to see, Caitlyn Jenner has begun scratching the surface of changing society’s mind for the better. Therefore a new idea of what ‘being human’ can mean is altering, finding happiness within yourself being at the forefront.

Jaden Smith gender fashion stereotypes

Additional icons include Bryan Boy, who has always been recognised for his amazing taste in fashion and his clothes being a means of art. Whether his garments fit into the stereotypical aesthetics of menswear or womenswear are evidently irrelevant: he presents himself as he feels appropriate.

Others like Miss Jay and Andre Leon Talley also embrace fashion as part of their personal visions, which are built upon the foundation that unique style is, essentially, a freedom of choice.

The moral of these stories? Fashion should be seen as an outlet for men and women humans to express themselves and their differences. Variety plays a major part in what our society is made up of, which can be played out in whatever cut, colour, shape or texture we want.

Haute couture brands and runways representing and showcasing non-conforming gender pieces may be the movement away from oppressive restrictions of what’s conventionally defined as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ we’ve been waiting for. Let’s hope they keep it up.

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