Oneness is an idea and an experience that has a deeper meaning — in particular, it has played a great role in our collective consciousness. This unified field, or rather, the Universe, is responsible for ‘oneness’ taking center stage in all major religions, spiritual aspects and the wisdom of tradition. How this feeds into us? While we may not have the same agenda, we all have the same mission. The point of oneness is to liberate us from the shackles that we are tied to by immersing ourselves in the mentality of separation and fear. Oneness allows us to experience true freedom as well as love. And, this deep topic makes it’s way into the cloth that we wear on our backs in what is NOT a trend, but rather a movement that is slowly making it’s way to the mainstream. Welcome to the rise of unisex fashion.
Today, gender norms are being questioned and dismantled. Who is the one that decided the way that a man should dress, or a woman should dress? Where did these rules come from? Rules are a funny thing: sometimes, they prevent us from doing what we truly want, and thus are meant to be broken. A limit is placed on things, but through unisex fashion, one can dress in a modern sense without any sort of limit.
It’s weird. I work a lot with men’s clothes, and every so often, I’ll get a few cool pieces to take home based on my relationships with brands. But lately, I find myself, thinking, I want what he’s wearing. I want to wear that really elongated black drapey tank top with the side panels. I want to wear the leather perforated jacket with the asymmetric zip closure. No, it’s not because I want to be a cross-dresser. It just looks damn cool. Certain markets (overseas, in particular) are embracing gender-neutral clothes, and it is slowly taking hold stateside: designers are removing the details that differentiate womenswear from menswear.
Unisex fashion started a while ago, but for today’s younger generation, it has been seen on many popular designers within recent years. Take Rick Owens and J.W. Anderson, who regularly put men in skirts in modern today. Really, Rad Hourani is a big name in the ‘unisex’ sector; he designed his couture collection around it before launching his label in 2007. And of course for us chicas, we have “boyfriend jeans,” “boyfriend jackets” and simply “borrowed from the boys” to describe this trend. The last few seasons of womenswear has seen a load of prints and feminine touches. Thus, a lot of designers are going back to the basics. Less fitted, simpler cuts that include boxy silhouettes embrace the trend. And, the younger generation eats this up since it is a new, fresh approach. It’s the reemergence of minimalism in a world of excess.
Why is the unisex movement so sexy [to me]? Unisex is about the way you feel as a person, free from gender. Clothes can transform the way that you feel and the way that you react in society. Really, fashion and adornment distinguish and identify who we are and what our genders are. Take a bandage dress for example (note: burn your bandage dress immediately if you own one, it is past 2006) which attempts to emphasize the female silhouette. As a mature woman slowly approaching 30, I have a quench for more: for me, there needs to be something that I can just wear as myself. I don’t want to be constrained or wear something that has historical references. I want to veer away from the structure of what is masculine versus feminine and instead have my clothing be a feeling, a moment… a look. An attitude and a gesture that explores so many deeper things than simply defining me as ‘woman.’ I want shape, I want movement… and unisex clothes allow my inner artist to emerge outwardly through needle and thread.
From a woman’s perspective, unisex dressing is actually quite liberating once you reach mental maturity. Not being in skintight clothing is actually quite empowering: a minimal cutout or shape may reveal a piece of my flesh in all of its sacred geometry, but you still essentially see nothing. I save the good stuff for myself and my partner, and it leaves those who are looking at me wondering what is underneath that layered piece on me as they see it cascade in the wind (or the air conditioning or whatever). I am not defined by my sex appeal. I am defined by my intelligence. I am defined by my style.
Men are also getting a little bit more open-minded in terms of their style of dress. Those that live in culturally forward urban cities such as New York now pay more attention to how they dress and the question of ‘what is masculine?’ is a bit more loose. It’s seen in the elongating tops and the level of mini-dresses. Yes, cultural gender norms are firmly ingrained in society despite those who want to be politically correct. With that said, the fashion rebels can still be heard and are embracing the unisex movement.
So ok, why is this whole era happening right now? We have been here before culturally. There’s Tilda Swinton wearing suits, and there’s of course David Bowie. There is something in the air, this new mood that is informed by aesthetic. More recent seasons show a drift from men’s and womenswear in terms of taste. Womenswear has lost a lot of it’s spiky edges. Trainers and Céline-esque trousers have been dominating a lot of women’s ready-to-wear. Menswear is busy getting it’s feminine feel on, which may perhaps be the kicker with 2015’s take on unisex: menswear is becoming more feminine, and not the other way around.
The whole point of fashion is to make one to the point of feeling borderline uncomfortable. It is odd, and it should shock you. With that said, those designers that are revealing the process of tailoring, shape and construction via deconstruction and surpassing gender codes that question body proportion all deserve a round of applause. While traditional fashion physically reinforces sexual codification, movements such as these take the notion of gender and identity away from clothing and reinsert the importance of garment fabrication and the origin of creation and concept back into design. Fashion bridges a division between the avant-garde and the masses. Unisex wares revolutionize society through aesthetics.