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Posts Tagged: "BODE"

EMBRACING GENDERLESS FASHION

Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele help celebrities embrace the gender-neutral trend. (Photo Credit: GQ)

Trends come and go, but we believe that the androgynous trend is here to stay, at least for now. As a fashion movement, genderless dressing is gradually making its way into mainstream culture as the trend is hitting the major fashion capitals of the world. Thanks to many young celebrities and fashion designers, people of all genders are breaking convention with what they choose to wear. 0

UoF was the first to offer a lesson in androgynous fashion illustration in 2017 and it’s been one of our most popular lessons for the past four years.

Acceptance, inclusivity and an openness to change are fashion’s gift to 2021. This year is predicted to be all about reinvention and the gender-fluid movement. Think recording artist, Harry Styles, the poster child for androgyny. His gender-bending looks have been puzzling his fans for the past few years. The movement is now picking up  steam with many non-gender collections being launched by established brands such as Marc Jacobs and Gucci.

 

Harry Styles (Photo Credit: theguardian.com)

Although one could argue that celebrity androgyny can be traced as far back as the ‘30s with Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn, and in the ‘70s with Dianne Keaton and David Bowie, today’s celebs like Harry Styles, Tilda Swinton and Jared Leto are really pushing the envelope. In fact, some celebrity stylists are moving their clients away from a masculine-feminine divide to more ‘inclusive’ dressing choices. After all, inclusivity is the new buzzword.

Marlene Dietrich, genuinely loved wearing trouser suits, and said she felt more alluring in traditionally masculine clothes. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Katharine Hepburn epitomized the independent American woman, and she was one of the first to popularize pants. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Actor and singer Jared Leto’s style has grown more and more daring. Leto has claimed that there is no singular definition of masculinity. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While the majority of retailers, brands and designers have reacted slowly to the movement, many are starting to come around. The cashmere knit collection Inhabit launched its first genderless collection in the fall of 2020, Norma Kamali reformed her storied brand to a unisex label in 2019, Umit Benan launched unisex line B+ and Equipment launched a gender-neutral collection in 2020.

There are also a number of brands who are strictly genderless labels such as Telfar, Aries, Les Tien, Gypsy Sport and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. In 2018, Stefano Pilati introduced a fluid men’s wear label Random Identities. Even global giant retailers like H&M and Zara have incorporated genderless collections in their stores.

According to Rob Smith, the founder of Phluid Project (which launched in March of 2018 in NYC and online for access worldwide as a gender-free fashion brand), “Consumers are ready for genderless fashion, especially Gen Z consumers”  Smith said, at a WWD Culture Conference in November 2020, “that 56 percent of Generation Z consumers shop outside their assigned gendered area.”

For merchants to adapt to gender-neutral fashions, retailers must re-evaluate their merchandising strategies, designers must reexamine what a genderless collection actually is, and the industry must learn the language and terminology.

During the WWD Cultural Conference Smith used a character called the “Gender Unicorn” to demonstrate the proper way to address gender and sexuality. According to WWD, Smith spoke of five things related to identity, including the sex one is assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, who one is intimately attracted to and then who one is emotionally attracted to.

According to Smith, the parts that are pertain to fashion are gender identity and gender expression. To begin, a person can be assigned one of three sexes at birth: male, female, or intersex. Then comes gender identity, which is what one identifies themselves as and gender expression, which is how one dresses to express themselves. Smith started his speech identifying himself as a “cis man,” meaning he was assigned male at birth and identifies as male.

Smith explained at the conference that when he was young, sexuality and expression were lumped together, “but now it’s all about separating your sexual orientation with your gender identity.”

In an interview with WWD, Christina Zervanos, head of public relations at Phluid Project, said the non-binary consumer “combats the word unisex, because it has the word sex in it. For a lot of people, it speaks to sexuality when it’s about how you identify yourself.”

“Gen Z is begging for the non-binary language,” Zervanos said. “It takes a lot of learning and unlearning.” According to Pew Research Center, 35 percent of Gen Z is familiar with gender-neutral pronouns, followed by Millennials at 25 percent. Throw in Gen X at 16 percent and the total number of people familiar with gender-neutral pronouns reaches 76 percent.

Smith also said at the conference, “If I was going to represent a young community, especially a gender-expansive young community, I need to learn the language.”

Many brands are implementing the language, refer to their gender-neutral collections as genderless, like Official Rebrand, the genderless label from non-binary designer and creative MI Leggett. They coined the term “gender-free.”

“Gender is not a fixed thing,” said Leggett in an interview with WWD, whose pronouns are they/them. “I’d never heard people use the term gender-free when I started the brand. It’s kind of a play on gluten-free. If you don’t tolerate gluten, you don’t have to consume it, so I thought it was a funny play. A lot of people use gender-neutral. That feels a little stale to me. Free implies more freedom. Agender, genderless, there’s so many ways to describe your ideology as a brand. It all depends on what you actually mean. So to me it’s gender-free.”

Fashion companies are falling into the trap of creating looks and calling them “genderless” even though a piece may lean more toward men’s wear or women’s wear. Typically, genderless clothes are either oversize, formless, and shapeless. For years women have worn men’s wear as well as men’s inspired looks that today, it became mainstream.

Kanye West in a Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci leather kilt for his “Watch the Throne” tour. (Photo Credit: The Telegraph)

Unfortunately, men embracing woman’s garments did not translate as easily. In 2010, Kanye West wore a Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci leather kilt for his “Watch the Throne” tour, unfortunately his fashion choice received mixed reviews. In 2016, Louis Vuitton cast Jaden Smith (Actor Will Smith’s son) for its woman’s spring campaign, this was the first time the luxury house had a male modeling in their woman’s advertisements. There were many mixed reactions as celebrity men started wearing more fluid fashion choices. But Harry Styles changed the conception in 2019 when the singer wore a sheer Gucci blouse to the Met Gala and genderless fashion quickly started to move into the cultural mainstream.

Harry Styles cemented himself as a fashion icon in 2019, in his frilled Gucci shirt and pearl earrings at the Met Gala. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Toda, the category of genderless fashion is growing. One of the first designers to launch a unisex, gender-neutral brand is Rad Hourani in 2007. The designer created his label after he held an art exhibit for neutral clothes, which he described in an interview with WWD as “a tornado success where I started selling to department stores around the world.” Hourani noticed after moving to Paris at age 23 that all things were categorized according to “race, gender, age,” including fashion.

Rad Hourani surrounded by models in his looks. (Photo Credit: Elle Canada)

“When I speak of neutrality, I speak of any gender or non-gender,” he said. “Unisex is free of any gender categorization or limitation. Clothing is a discipline in which I can express myself and my vision around neutrality in general. Expressing gender neutrality is a big part of what I do. There have been unisex pieces like sneakers, jeans, T-shirts, but to create a full high-end collection for 13 years now, I needed to create my own base and sizes.”

“In the past two years, [genderless fashion] became a bigger subject, but what I notice the most is they use designs that are loose-fitting, but I think it’s a much deeper look at unisex morphology. There’s nothing new about making a woman masculine or a man feminine. That’s not unisex, that’s making one the other,” Hourani said. “For androgynous, you can’t tell, but it’s not unisex. Unisex is free of any gender categorization or limitation.”

He also sees genderless fashion as less restrictive than gendered fashion. “If you only give a man a dress, you’re only limiting him to a dress. But if you give a human a neutral garment, they will wear it any way they want.”

POPULAR GENDER-FLUID DESIGNERS

Gender-neutral looks from Entireworld. (Photo Credit: Entireworld)

Entireworld offers all of the basics you need to build a solid gender-neutral wardrobe.

Bode’s unisex one of a kind reworked quilt pastel jacket. (Photo Credit: Bode)

Emily Bode utilizes vintage textiles to create one of a kind jackets and shirts you’ll want to keep forever.

A look from Telfar. (Photo Credit: @slamjammilano)

The Telfar shopping bag has created so much buzz, but Telfar Clemens doesn’t only create sought after accessories, he also has some great fashion pieces too.

A look from Wales Bonner. (Photo Credit: Wales Bonner)

Grace Wales Bonner is the designer behind the gender neural label Wales Bonner. The brand is known for its impeccably tailored blazers and trousers, all with an unexpected sartorial edge. Wales Bonner also teamed up with Adidas for a limited collab, offering up a range of sporty spice looks.

A look from Wildfang. (Photo Credit: Wildfang)

Two Nike executives created the label Wildfang which offers a range of workwear, suits, tees, and more, all of which offer the pared-down, structured look that’s often found in the men’s department.

 

SO TELL US, WILL YOU EMBRACE THE GENDER-FLUID TREND?

Props to Bergdorf

Emerging Designer Showcase Event

No one appreciates, more than I, what it means when a major department store decides to showcase your work, because once upon a time, that designer was me. During the 1980s, I was fortunate enough to have my own business, Francesca Sterlacci Ltd., built on a shoestring. I’m proud to say that for 10 years I had the support of many great stores and was fortunate to have my clothes featured in store windows, at  perrsonal appearances and sold in prestigious NY stores including Saks, Bloomingdales, Barney’s, Bendels, Bergdorf’s and Bonwit’s (known in the day as the 5 ‘Bs’). So you can imagine how special it was for me on Saturday September 8, when I took time out to meet a few emerging designers on Bergdorf’s 6th floor Modernist shop. One of the big questions our University of Fashion subscribers ask us is, “will I be able to market and sell my designs to stores?” Well, after seeing and meeting the designers that you are about to read about, and by talking with Madison Nagy, Assitant Buyer for BG’s Advanced Designer department, the answer is yes, but “You have got to be different.”

Let’s take a look at what that means.

 

BODE

 

Bode luxury unisex brand: Designer Emily Adams Bode

Bode (pronounced Bow-Dee) is a luxury unisex RTW brand created by Atlanta-born designer and Parsons grad, Emily Adams Bode. The brand launched in 2016 and Bode took off! The brand began with one-of-a-kind garments composed entirely of antiques textiles and continues to envigorate American menswear through the art of storytelling. Each piece tells a story and is tailor-made in New York. Her work expresses a sentimentality for the past through the study of personal narratives and historical techniques. Modern workwear silhouettes united with female-centric traditions of quilting, mending, and applique shape the collection. The collection is organized around that single simple rule: slow fashion is better.

Bode was the first female designer to show at NYFW: Men’s and had her first runway show in Paris in June 2019. She was named as a finalist in the LVMH Prize for young fashion designers, was recently the winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and Emily Bode was even included in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list. Click on the link to see one of Bode’s fashion presentations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmZk8R7zGn0

BERNADETTE

Bernadette luxury RTW brand: Mother & daughter Bernadette & Charlotte De Geyter

Bernadette is luxury ready-to-wear label based in Antwerp by mother and daughter Bernadette and Charlotte De Geyter. Their collections are defined by easy-to-wear silk dresses and refreshing prints, designed exclusively in-house by Charlotte who graduated with a master’s degree from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts. A love of nature and the arts are leitmotifs that run through Bernadette’s aesthetic. Ultra feminine, metropolitan glamour is juxtaposed with a poetic vision of a life somewhere remote and paradisal. Clean lines add a graceful note to the label’s silhouettes while colorful prints echo a timeless and free-spirited allure. Check out their website at https://www.bernadetteantwerp.com

Deveaux New York

Deveaux New York. Designer: Tommy Ton

Deveaux New York was originally formed as a menswear collection by Matthew Breen and Andrea Tsao. In February 2018, Deveaux launched its womenswear collection and announced the appointment of industry veteran, photographer Tommy Ton as Creative Director. Tommy Ton is a Canadian photographer first known for his fashion blog Jak & Jil and his street style coverage of fashion weeks on Style.com and GQ.com.

With an encyclopedia knowledge of what is being worn in the streets, Tommy Ton brings a keen knowledge of the relationship between the runway and the consumer. Together with Andrea Tsao as Head Designer, as well as Matthew Breen, who heads business development, the team is comprised of a unique set of backgrounds that aspires to re-contextualize classic items in the modern world through fit, fabrication and silhouette. It explores the idea of a ‘uniform’ in an effort to make a truly authentic wardrobe. Bergdorf has the NY exclusive distribution of Deveaux for 3 seasons. Check out Deveaux New York’s website: https://deveauxnewyork.com

LouLou Studio

LouLou Studio: Designer Chloe LouLou De Saison

LouLou Studio is a knitwear brand created by fashion influencer/fashion consultant Chloe LouLou De Saison. Her Instagram is a glimpse into a universe which revolves around her vision of the modern Parisian woman. Chloe says of her brand, “I just wanted what I couldn’t find anywhere else: the perfect basic knit with a twist, but also good quality clothes at affordable prices. Everything revolves around well-being. Our pieces are designed to make life easier for women. Putting on a nice sweater in the morning is comforting and reassuring. We want to arouse this feeling with our knitwear collections.” Bergdorf has the NY exclusive distribution of LouLou for 3 seasons. See more of LouLou Studio at https://louloustudio.fr/en/

Also on BG’s Radar

Although the following designers were not on the selling floor while I was there on Saturday, the following brands were also listed among BG’s emerging designers.

Coperni

Coperni luxury RTW designers: Sébastien Meyer & Arnaud Vaillant (Courtesy Coperni Instagram)

Coperni– a luxury women’s wear collection launched by former Courrèges designers Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant on Instagram this Fall – check out the interactive display to watch the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure inspired video series! Coperni takes its name from Nicolaus Copernicus. “He revolutionized astronomy and we were inspired by that,” says Sébastien, who met co-designer Arnaud when both were students at Mod’ Art International in Paris. Their fledgling label, which won the 2014 ANDAM Award, is at once innovative and timeless. “The most important thing for us is to make clothes that are perfectly cut and draped and that women enjoy wearing,” explains Vaillant. “We want our clients to have an emotional connection to our pieces, a real feeling, and we won’t achieve that by making collections that fall out of fashion after a season.” Coperni is currently exclusive to BG in NY.

KHAITE

KHAITE. Designer: Catherine Holstein

KHAITE (pronounced Kate) is a women’s RTW collection that reimagines classic American sportswear for the 21st century. Designed to be cherished, each piece proposes a fresh balance of opposing elements – past and future, masculine and feminine strength and softness, structure and fluidity – while embodying a signature sensuality and ease.

 

Founded in 2016 by Catherine Holstein, New York-based KHAITE evolves with each new season, building upon a foundation of robust and polished items distinguished by exceptional materials and subtle yet striking details. The collection takes its name from the Greek word (xaitn) meaning “long, flowing hair.”

Sies Marjan

Sies Marjan. Designer Sander Lak

Sies Marjan (pronounced seez mar-john), is a luxury designer label established in 2016 and based in New York City. Designed by Dutch Creative Director Sander Lak, the brand evokes a narrative of color, proportion and subversive fabrication. The name Seis Marjan, signifies the first names of his father Sies, and his mother Marjan. In 3 short years, Sies Marjan has developed a strong multi-category business to include Women’s RTW, Men’s RTW, footwear and handbags soon to come. The brand has 150+ global luxury stockists including Bergdorf Goodman, MatchesFashion, Sssense and Net-a-Porter.

Sander was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award for emerging talent in 2017 and won the prize in 2018. He was also a nominee for the CFDA 2019 Womenswear Designer of the Year. Check out his Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/seismarjan/ 

ROTATE by Birger Christensen

ROTATE by Birger Christensen

ROTATE is a Copenhagen-based brand designed by Danish stylists and influencers Jeanette Madsen and Thors Valdimars. Birger Christensen, the parent company, boasts a 150-year-old history, having opened its doors in the heart of Copenhagen in 1869. Finn Birger Christensen, a third-generation furrier, built the company by offering a well-curated collection of luxury names alongside its own brand of fur and accessories. When Denise Christensen joined the family business as chief executive officer in 2017, she initiated a new chapter in the brand’s history by opening Rotate, featuring bold prints and textiles in 80s inspired silhouettes with an emphasis on party dresses.

Check out Rotate at https://rotatebirgerchristensen.com

As NYFW marches on this week, it is nice to see attention being paid to emerging designers. Stay tuned….