The future of fashion is gender fluid
Among all of the stalls of local designers selling their clothing at the weekend Brick Lane Market in London, Frederick Morrison’s self-titled brand ‘THIS IS FRED’ stands out.
The luxury unisex streetwear brand was founded by Morrison in 2014, and has grown exponentially in the last two years as the lines between menswear and womenswear are becoming increasingly more blurred in mainstream fashion. Each of Morrison’s garments is hand-crafted in his studio in East London and can be custom made to fit any size or height. While looking over his recent collections, the majority of Morrison’s signature patterns and silhouettes are based on geometric shapes, from which he says he drew inspiration from the convergence of strength and angularity of architectural forms and fluidity of natural shapes.
In the last few years, what started as a small shop in London’s weekend Brick Lane Market has grown into an international brand. ‘THIS IS FRED’ has been shown at Milan and Paris Fashion week, and is now sold in stores in London, New York, Spain and Germany as well as internationally on ASOS marketplace. Though, even with the brand’s international success, Morrison says he still receives criticism pointed at his brand being gender fluid.
“Critics have said gender fluid brands are just showing women's clothing at men's fashion week, and vice versa with more masculine cuts in women's fashion week,” Morrison reveals. “It’s funny, because in doing that I as the designer is saying that these clothes aren’t just for women. That’s the entire point.”
With his brand, Morrison says he is seeking to redefine gender through his non-binary line of clothing, where every piece of clothing is made to suit both men and women.
In the past few years, the contemporary fashion world has praised brands that feature gender fluid clothing and androgynous models, largely for the example it's set to the younger generation to not be defined by the clothes that signal an unyielding or binary representation of gender.
Recent statistics are showing that Generation Z, the post-millennial generation made up of people born between the mid-90’s to 2000, is paving the way for the concept of gender, not only in clothing but in all aspects, to be seen as an old-fashioned construct. A 2018 study from the Phluid Project found that 38 percent of Gen Z-ers‘strongly agreed’ that gender no longer defines a person as much as it used to” and 27 percent of millennials felt the same way.
“Young people are really driving today’s fashion market. Millennials and Generation Z are expected to account for over $140 billion of the market in the next four years, so companies are listening to what they want,” said Todd Lynn, a fashion designer and lecturer at Kingston University’s fashion program in London. “Inclusive clothing for all genders, races and sizes is a huge selling point in today’s world, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing genderless clothing in a ton of stores in the future.”
As genderless clothing becomes the new standard, a number of fashion brands are already beginning to create clothing free of gender labels. Luxury designers like Saint Laurent, Versace and Haider Ackerman have all held co-ed runway shows over the last few seasons. Celine Dion launched a gender-neutral fashion line for children in November 2018 in collaboration with unisex kids fashion brand nununu, and H&M released a line of genderless shoes, clothing, and accessories for adults and kids in January 2019.
Still, even with the rising popularity of genderless clothing, shopping in a mainstream store in today's world as a person outside the binary can be difficult. Not everyone can afford unisex clothes from Saint Laurent or Versace, and H&M’s genderless line was only for sale for a limited run. It could be said that brands are buying into these genderless fashion lines like it’s a trend, when it should be viewed as a new standard for fashion and the perception of gender as a whole.
Morrison says he too struggles to find clothes to suit his gender-fluidity and continues to create his clothing with himself in mind. While he realizes not everyone can afford the price for his gender-neutral clothing, he hopes his line sets an example for the industry and inspires mainstream designers to come out with clothing that is free of gender labels.
“When I’m making clothes, everybody is my demographic,” said Morrison. “I believe gender is a social construct. People should be allowed to dress how they want to, and designers should be making clothes to support those people.”