Where Are Fashion's Gender Neutral Clothes?

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Illustration for article titled Where Are Fashions Gender Neutral Clothes?

With the exception of the t-shirt (which only masquerades as gender neutral), in the U.S. clothes are designed for women or men, but never both. There is no option to buy clothes, one must buy women's or men's clothes.

This is even true for children's clothes. One might make the argument that adult males and females have different bodies (an argument I might argue with), but we can't say that pre-pubertal children do. Nevertheless, the cultural rules that require boys and men to dress differently than girls and women make such a clothing line seem impossible.

Well, Evie sent in an example of a UK clothing company trying to do the impossible. The company, Polarn O. Pyret, explains:

Our unisex collection (UNI) consists of clothing that is based on situation and function rather than on gender. As a clothing manufacturer, we want to make it our responsibility to offer an alternative to clothing that is based on gender. There is really no reason to design different models and fits for small boys and girls since there is no great difference in the way their bodies are shaped. We have taken an overall approach to unisex clothing, and consider not only color but also pattern and fit.

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Evie's attention was drawn by this ad in a store window:

Illustration for article titled Where Are Fashions Gender Neutral Clothes?

Their website, you'll notice, doesn't have the regular "girls" and "boys" section seen ubiquitously:

Illustration for article titled Where Are Fashions Gender Neutral Clothes?
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This company is nice evidence that the-way-it-is isn't the-way-it-has-to-be.

Note: Mary and Cheryl pointed out that, if you click on "babies" or either of the "kids" tabs, you get the option of "boys," "girls," or "uni" (unisex) lines. So the company isn't making a principled stand here. They're still willing to take the money of parents who want to dress their kids in gendered clothes, but they are offering an alternative for those parents who don't. It's pretty telling that even this strategy - offering a unisex line alongside girls and boys lines - is so rare.

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Image via Raisa Kanareva/Shutterstock.com.

This post originally appeared at Sociological Images.

Illustration for article titled Where Are Fashions Gender Neutral Clothes?
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Republished with permission.

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DISCUSSION

stoprobbers
stoprobbers

I would love to wear some men's clothes, but they don't accommodate the fact that I have boobs, hips and a small waist. I'm not about to take a stand against the clothing industry for that — that's why there are button-down shirts and trousers made to fit my (very different from a man's) body.

Those who have bodies that are more unisex in shape — girls with boyish figures no matter their size, slender little string bean boys — have the option of buying clothes from either side of the store. I've never seen anyone kicked out of the men's section for being a woman. This seems almost like a silly stand to take — after all, no one is stopping you from buying the opposite gender's clothes except yourself.

And while I sometimes wore dresses as a little girl, my mother never pushed pink on me (there was, according to her, a solid year in which I only wore pink and when I was done with the color I was done — I haven't worn pink since I was 4), and when I wanted to wear blues, greens, browns, you know boy colors, she never thought twice about it. I got my shorts and t-shirts in any color I desired (within reason, of course, I wasn't spoiled) and I ran around and skinned my knee and climbed trees and grew my hair long and no one cared. I was a little kid, not some sort of gender-manipulated personbot, no matter whether my mom was shopping in the "girls" section or not.