Gender-neutral. Unisex. Both terms describe clothes that can be worn by both men and women. Simple in concept, but in execution? Not so much. A genderless, universal shopping experience has been fashion's white whale for a while now. Mass market labels like H&M and Zara have sold gender-neutral denim, hoodies and t-shirts, but a full wardrobe those items do not make. On the high fashion front, Hedi Slimane announced that clothes from Celine'sSS19men's collection will also be made available in women's sizes (whatever that means), while John Galliano's first co-ed show for Maison Margiela dressed up models of all gender expressions in feathered tulle tops, cut-out pencil skirts, and tailored silk suits with indiscriminate abandon. The only cohesive thread? Everyone wore clunky Mary Janes. It remains to be seen, however, if the gender-blending approach currently sweeping the runways is here to stay.
The industry has long encouraged women to "borrow from the boys", but hasn't pushed the opposite methodology with quite as much enthusiasm; for example, a huge backlash followed Nicolas Ghesquière dressing Jaden Smith in a skirt for Louis Vuitton's SS16 campaign. While such moments are a lightning rod, it's wrong-headed to reduce gender-neutrality to "men in skirts" and "women in pantsuits", as many fashion designers have been wont to do. PSA: true gender-neutrality rejects dualism or oppositions, and addresses itself to all people equally. Here are the 6 businesses we think are doing gender neutrality right.
1. Francesco Russo Known for his refined remixes of classic silhouettes, Francesco Russo's A-Gender line of shoes offers every shoe — yes, even stilettoes — in sizes 35 to 45.
2. Radimo Dan/Dannielle Owens-Reid's frustration at the lack of truly inclusive brands led to Radimo's founding. The founder of the LA-based boutique argues that mainstream fashion has failed to properly understand or market gender neutrality. His approach? Every item of clothing stocked at Radimo is photographed on three different models of varying body types, skin tones and gender identities.
3. Doublet Japanese designer Masayuki Ino's graphic, tongue-in-cheek designs have been worn by celebrities such as Travis Scott, Kendall Jenner and Liam Payne; on top of all that, Doublet won the 2018 LVMH Prize.
4. Matthew Adams Dolan The Australian-American designer has been behind several of Rihanna's to-die-for denim looks over the last couple of years. Her superstar support has catapulted Dolan from unknown Parsons MFA grad to one of the buzziest up-and-comers in New York.
5. 3EIGHTH This newly-launched Singaporean custom tailor believes that everyone deserves well-fitting suits and shirts, which we can't argue with.
6. Andrew Coimbra While the gender binary holds no interest for this Canadian designer, he is interested in exploring the contrasts between "classic and contemporary, and the more street and relaxed self". His genderless design sensibility originated from the designer's habit of shopping in both men's and women's departments growing up, with the support of his mother.