To celebrate the month of Pride, dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community across the world, we have Chinu Kala, Founder, Rubans Accessories, who firmly believes that fashion knows no language. Read her exclusive views on why fashion is gender neutral….
Take 1: Cigars on the right, a luxury timepiece on the left, long winter coats and a well-groomed beard – Is that the picture you get when I say, ‘An Englishman’ from the ’90s? Oh well! I just missed the hat.
Take 2: Long, flowy gowns with high heeled boots, a winter overcoat topped with a thick shade of lipstick – Is that the picture you get when I say ‘A Royal Woman’ from the late ’90s?
I say, even if all these images don’t conjure up in your mind, but you still get the picture, right? That, perhaps, was the fashion trend back then.
Fast forward to the present In today’s multi-dimensional phase, we are witnessing a spurt of transition in the fashion world. And its latest dimension is ‘UNISEX’. What initially was thought to represent masculinity and manliness, or those feminine cuts which adorned the pinnacle of womanhood, was later comprehended to be giving way to gender stereotypes, which, in fact, were tarnishing the true essence of ‘Fashion’ which is an extended form of self-expression.
Ms Chinu Kala and pieces of accessories from Rubans
And members of the LGBTQ+ community were the torchbearers who initiated the breakdown of these gender norms in fashion. As pioneers in the genderless fashion movement, the queer community came out teaching the true essence of fashion to the world,, which is to promote individuality.
Evolved Fashion Scene
Currently among the millennials, Fashion has received a new definition. There’s a shift from ‘How others perceive us’ to ‘How we feel about ourselves’. Not only that, brands have taken note of this shift. Numerous brands stepped up to support this positive sentiment. Calvin Klein, for instance, has added a whole range of ‘Unisex’ products, which includes, perfumes and garments. H&M too has added ‘unisex’ vertical to its aisle which is gaining a lot of popularity.
Now, cross dressing (men dressing in in the attires from women’s wardrobe and vice versa) has gained and received acceptance from the millennial generation. This acceptance helped in promoting the idea that clothes are fundamentally genderless.
Brands giving in their nod
Brands such as ETRO, Nicopanda, One DNA have solely dedicated themselves to helping break down the societal norms of fashion by coming up with jewellery and accessories that are gender-neutral. The bohemian trend in jewellery is the recent love among millennials. It has introduced men to a whole new world of jewellery fashion, the one that actually remained very limited for years. Jewellery brands are now lining up their ‘unisex collections’ as well – from pearls to layered chains, and from floral studs to nose rings, jewellery fashion is witnessing its rise being genderless too.
Fashion is an extension of personality
“Fashion is a part of who we are”, as quoted by vogue, but when society grades it as gendered, it not only limits our ability to express ourselves but also ties us down to show who we genuinely are. Wearing what you love, opens up your own world, and one to be themselves is the highest form of fulfilment to one’s life. That’s the lesson, the queer community set out to teach the world. Challenges of taking on harassment and social abuse have always been on their cards, but the evolving society has dealt this long-standing distress with acceptance, an openness to change and inclusivity over the years that has made the world a better place.
Fashion is a choice, so is sexuality
Embracing genderless fashion, the latest trend in the clothing line, termed as the ‘Androgynous style’, among the fashion community, is slowly redefining the way people perceive clothing. If you can recall the Louis Vuitton controversy that went viral, LV stirred conversations by casting, Hollywood Actor Jaden Smith for its women’s spring 2016 campaign, when such big brands step up, it does make a difference.
Fashion is a choice, and fashion is for all. Fashion knows no language, neither does it know any colours. It’s we who divide and that is the root cause of all the problems. Let’s together build a community of self-expressing individuals who are defined by their individuality and not by an identity enforced upon them by society. If fashion can pave the way forward to this, let’s keep fashion open as it is meant to be. Genderless!
*Check out the Unisex collection by Rubans at https://www.rubans.in/
Photo credits: Calvin Klien, H&M, Levis