If you told suburban mall teens in 1999 that Abercrombie & Fitch would be unpopular one day, they'd probably laugh in your face.
Originally starting out as a simple hunting goods store, they eventually evolved into a hyper-sexualized borderline homo-erotic apparel powerhouse that owned various side-businesses including Hollister. However after years of controversies — not limited to racial discrimination in hiring policies, and Mike Jeffrey's questionable ideals of the "Abercrombie & Fitch" customer — the brand has never fully recovered.
Now in 2018, people are more woke than ever, particularly regarding gender neutrality — something Jeffrey's vision strayed far from. Archaic views of gender performance are slipping away just like Abercrombie's social relevance, which is why the brand has launched its latest initiative: a genderless range named the Everybody Collection.
Abercrombie says the pieces are for "boys and girls, tall or small, aspiring scientists or athletes... styles for all!" The collection features 31 pieces ranging from logo sweatshirts, bomber jackers, hoodies, two sandals, and two hats; nothing radically different from any regular basics collection at the GAP or H&M — boxy cuts, neutral colors, and silhouettes that prioritize the male figure.
Let's not mistake inclusivity for dressing girls in boys clothing.
While big-box brands are struggling with understanding how to cater to a growing population that rejects societal norms, here are a few independent designers who are redefining gender rules in fashion:
Based in Brooklyn, TILLYandWILLIAM translates gender fluidity into literal fluidity — all their pieces can be worm in multiple ways by all consumers. Models regardless of gender show some leg in statement heels on their homepage, immediately giving you a taste of what to expect.
With four primary sections on their page: LIGHT, CUT, TWIRL, and SKIN, each offers fashion-forward design while retaining functionality, which is a must for the current market.
Founded by Brazillian-born Fabio Costa, second-place winner of Project Runway: Season 10, NotEqual features carefully draped pieces that alter the physical form, without being unwearable — a classic aesthetic genderless fashion has adopted.
Both male and female models are seen wearing the pieces interchangeably without making out to be a spectacle. Whether they're pink oversized trousers or a wrap skirt, Fabio stays true to his vision that fashion should be limitless.
Currently with three online-available collections, NotEqual proves that fine tailoring and design can be applied to any aesthetic, regardless of what their customer identifies as.
Brain-child of sisters Faye and Erica Toogood, Toogood combines impeccable materiality with pattern-making that is beautiful enough to be placed next to Issey Miyake and Vivienne Westwood.
With inspiration being taken from traditional workwear, the idea of uniformity translates well to gender-neutrality.
Currently having seven collections, with 40+ stockists internationally, Toogood gives consumers looking for a luxe-aesthetic while challenging societal restriction a place to comfortably shop.
Birthed from a plethora of influences, Rad Hourani's collections merge into a singular ideal, which is to "advocate non-conformity as the essence of individuality."
With a vague A.P.C meets Y's meets Heidi Slimane Era-Saint Laurent Paris (Good luck at Céline Heidi!), aesthetic, Hourani's pieces aren't separated into mens or women's collections, they're simply sold as pieces.
Whether you're looking for a simple coat or streamlined skirt, there's a calmness about the brand which automatically generates appreciation.
Following in the footsteps of American Apparel, 69's products and garments are all made in Los Angeles. Embodying the easy-going nature of Southern California, 69 gives you relaxed silhouettes without a political agenda.
On the home page you see models or various colors, sizes, genders, and ages modeling their pieces all while being organic in presentation. Gender isn't their main conversation, it's simply an accessory to the larger picture at 69.