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Fashion designers strive to improve gender neutral clothing

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Gender neutral clothing is no longer an obscure corner of the fashion world, but as interest in such models grows, some lines have been criticized as being too baggy and lacking in imagination.

In the quest of some designers to fit all adult bodies, they sometimes ended up not pleasing to anyone.

Now, small businesses are trying to reconfigure everything from cuts to closures in an effort to deliver gender-neutral fashion with silhouettes and style. Their secret weapons? Zippers, stretch fabrics and redesigned size charts.

When people do gender neutral, they tend to do really baggy and oversized things, and I don’t know if everyone wants to dress like that, said Rob Smith, CEO and founder of the Phluid Project, who sells genderless products. parts online and in department stores, including Nordstrom Inc.

Since the launch of Project Phluid in 2018, Mr. Smith has learned a few things about gender-neutral design: a raglan sleeve, like those sewn into baseball T-shirts, works well on most body types; thicker straps on tops and dresses are preferred over thinner alternatives because they can hide the breast ties worn by some people with breasts; and knitted fabrics are essential to avoid bag-shaped designs.

Most fashion continues to be designed for men or women, and sales data is very rarely broken down to include a gender-neutral category. Brands including Gap Inc.

Banana Republic, Inditex HER

Zara and Hennes & Mauritz ABs H&M have embarked on gender-neutral lines in recent years, but have not made them a permanent product category.

Other companies are testing a move away from the men’s and women’s fashion binary, including Pacific Sunwear of California LLC and Kering HER

Gucci. The idea is to meet the needs of people who identify as a non-binary gender group, estimated at 1.2 million Americans, according to a recent report. University of California, Los Angeles studyas well as customers who are simply not interested in gendered clothing. Fashion-focused research and shopping platform Lyst said searches including keywords such as unisex, non-sexist and gender fluent increased 33% between January and June.

A pant style from fashion label One DNA is designed to fit tall people when worn buttoned at the hips, and shorter people when worn at the waist.


Photo:

DNA

Some observers say that a truly inclusive collection would offer traditionally masculine and feminine pieces to fit all kinds of bodies. Some large companies offer their androgynous and non-sexist collections in a full range of sizes; some clothing at Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

For example, the gender neutral line goes from XXS to XXXL, with six sizes in between. But many small companies producing seasonal collections cannot afford to produce sizes to fit all dimensions, especially when it comes to clothing cut to hug the body.

For Aries Arise Ltd., a streetwear brand that sells a gender-neutral line, the solution is to offer sizes to suit the smallest and tallest buyers possible, and space the handful of sizes farther than usual. Drawcords on the waistbands and hems allow wearers to adjust the fit.

The Early Majoritys jackets are constructed with two zippers: one that closes in the typical masculine fashion and another that closes in the feminine fashion.


Photo:

Kimberly Ross / First majority

Gender-neutral outerwear brand Early Majority Inc., which plans to open its website for pre-orders in January, will allow wearers to polish their silhouettes and fits with the modular design of its jackets and coats.

Two zippers sewn onto the front of the Shell Early Majoritys jacket can be pulled to remove the center panel and resized to create a tighter waist, said Hanna ter Meulen, co-founder and product manager of the company. Zippers on the side can open to create a looser fit on the hips, and removable hoods come in multiple sizes to suit different hairstyles.

Even the zippers themselves were designed for gender neutrality. The front zippers of the Early Majority jackets include both a usual masculine design, with the insert pin on the wearer’s right side, and one that connects in the opposite, feminine direction, a holdover from the era. where some women had (usually right-handed) servants to dress them.

It’s kind of crazy how our body and mind are programmed and so sensitive to these kind of very subtle signals of gender conformity, said Ms ter Meulen. I just wanted to eliminate that.

The Phluid Project worked with Fusion Specialties to design three gender non-conforming mannequins.


Photo:

The Phluid / Fusion project

Every piece of clothing on the gender-neutral fashion brand One DNA’s website is photographed on models of different shapes and heights, and customer service assistants online and in stores are trained in how an item of clothing can be styled. about different people, its co-founder said. Travis Weaver. One style of pants the company sells, for example, is designed to fit taller people when worn buttoned up at the hips, and shorter people when worn at the waist.

Meanwhile, the Phluid Project worked last month with model maker Fusion Specialties Inc. to design three gender-non-conforming mannequins, with the goal of better showing how clothing might cling to trans and non-binary bodies.

It’s the little touches that you maybe, maybe not, said Mr Smith, CEO of Phluid Projects, referring to details like slightly larger hands on the trans-woman model and slightly hips. wider on the trans-male model. Took care of people who don’t always see themselves on a mannequin.

More from the experience report

Write to Katie Deighton at [email protected]

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