If the Suit Fits…
Nonbinary and Gender Non-conforming Fashion
In my work in qualitative research, gender identity and labels come up regularly, and their intersection with the fashion world has taken a fascinating turn of late. Nonbinary.org, a wiki for nonbinary gender education and advocacy explains that “some nonbinary people like clothes that don’t give any female or male markers (gender-neutral fashion). Other nonbinary people like clothes that mix female and male markers (mixed-gender fashion). Yet other nonbinary people wear clothes that are very similar to either conventional women’s wear or conventional men’s wear.”
Image courtesy Genderflux
As awareness grows around the rights and needs of gender non-conforming individuals, some apparel manufacturers like Not Equal, 69, TheTomboyShop, Wildfang and GenderFlux are meeting an unmet need for those seeking comfortable, stylish, non-gendered clothing. Butchbaby is even revolutionizing the maternity wear industry with a line of gender-queer clothing for expectant parents.
For those looking for a bespoke experience, Duchess Clothier and Sharpe Suiting offer tailoring for clients of all shapes and sizes. In addition to their ready to wear collection, Saint Harridan creates custom suits for those who use their clothes to assert their “personal dignity and personal reverence” and practice activism through their style of dress. Because finding the perfect outward expression of one’s inner self means more than just picking the right fabric or accessory.
The recent HBO documentary “Suited” follows the gender non-conforming clientele of tailors Bindle & Keep as they pursue the perfect suit. As documentary subject Everett Arthur says, “Being trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, I think it’s nice to level the playing field. I think we have a lot hurdles that cis gender people don’t really have to worry about…. But putting on the suit, I was like, yeah, this is actually affirming my gender identity. For me, the first time I put on the suit was the first time I saw myself and felt: This is me and I’m Everett.”
What does the emergence of a non-binary definition of gender mean for the fashion business? Do you have questions about how young consumers perceive these emerging brands? Contact us for more information. We are here to help.