How Back-Office Decisions Make or Break Gender-Neutral Clothing Lines – Sourcing Journal
Fashion month not only shines a light on upcoming trends, cuts and colors, but the globe-trotting event also offers insight into how the industry is becoming more gender-inclusive.
“In recent years, the runway has evolved from an exclusive access control experience to an all-inclusive door opener,” said Danny Goldstein, Fashion Snoops womenswear strategist, during a recent webinar. “More than ever and more and more every year, we see non-binary and transgender role models featured alongside cisgender role models on the catwalk. This highlights adequate representation of marginalized communities.
Rob Smith, founder and CEO of The Phluid Project, a brand that designs clothing and accessories beyond gender constraints, said he saw a 30% increase in searches with gender-neutral terms and a 50% increase mentions in the press with the word sexless. “Nearly 60% of Gen Z stores are of all genders,” he told attendees Tuesday at the 2022 CEO Summit in New York, a joint conference hosted by the Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retailing Center. School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Retail Leaders. Circle. “This number is staggering: nearly a quarter of Gen Zers expect to change identities at least once in their lifetime. So the genre becomes very fluid for young people.
On the catwalk, Gucci, No Sesso and A.Potts are among the labels that showcased fashion in a gender-neutral way for Fall Winter 22-23, but the catwalk is just one area brands need to take into account before making a concerted effort. to woo non-binary consumers.
Here, Goldstein shares “doable” steps for companies to strategize with internal teams to grow in this growing market and reach a new set of consumers.
Raising Gender Queer Voices
“Always include trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people in developing, creating, and promoting gender-inclusive lines,” Goldstein said.
A successful example of this is underwear brand Parade’s ‘Color Outside the Lines’ collection for Pride last year, notable for its use of unconventional colors. “It’s a bit more subtle, and it was strategic to not look like a rainbow wash, but rather be more thoughtful in their color choices,” he said. Additionally, he said the campaign was led by a West Dakota drag performer, model, and activist who Parade specifically hired to be “true and authentic to the community he served.”
In general, Goldstein urged brands to seek out diverse voices within their own businesses who can provide advice, ideas and help encourage the use of “appropriate language” that will be essential for impactful marketing communications.
“If you’re considering creating a gender-neutral line, I’m sure there must be people in your company who identify as LGBTQ-plus and would like to be part of strategic conversations early on,” he said. declared. “Or maybe there are allies who simply care about the community and want to support their advancement who would also like to be involved.”
Don’t Forget Retail
Goldstein urged brands to consider creating a specific section on their e-commerce platforms that “will highlight a curated selection of degendered items aimed at the non-binary market or anyone else who identifies outside of men. or women”.
Gucci offers this shopping experience with MX, a selection of luxury home apparel and accessories.
For brick and mortar, he suggested that retailers dedicate physical space to non-binary items and organize them by color, item, cut and style rather than gender.
“There’s a way to position products for everyone, even if you’re traditionally a women’s wearer or a men’s wearer. [brand],” he said.
Consider the environment
Genderless collections offer new opportunities for brands to adopt more responsible sourcing and design strategies.
“Creating gender-neutral lines with eco-virtuous standards in their DNA. Consider how you can reduce waste by making lines for all genders and promote circularity through sharing,” Goldstein said.
Pangaia’s recent denim collections reflect this state of mind. The materials science-focused brand recently launched workwear-inspired unisex jackets and jeans made from organic cotton and hemp fabrics. Part of the collection is dyed with Archroma’s EarthColors derived from renewable, inedible waste such as nut shells and leaf scraps from the food and herbal industries.
Design beyond binaries and think about how patterns and building techniques could be innovated to accommodate customers of all gender identities, Goldstein added. “Explore methods that make clothing more inclusive by incorporating modular pieces with adaptive fits,” he said.
Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.