Fashion + Feminism

Who really wears the trousers? Androgynous fashion explained

In answer to that question… we do! We’ve worked hard ladies. From generations before us to the young leaders of today, feminism continues to be a prominent force. But how has fashion contributed to the simple fact that: women are unstoppable? Androgynous fashion is your answer. 

Genderless fashion has undoubtedly become a leading staple in the industry. More and more designers today are promoting androgynous styles with their use of mixed gendered runways at fashion week and using their advertising to show men and women can wear the same things. 

Chanel and her androgynous fashion

The 20th century was a real game-changer for feminism through fashion. The icon herself, Coco Chanel, gave women the gift of trousers and suits in 1910. “I gave women a sense of freedom…I gave them back their bodies,” said Chanel. 

In the 19th century, women were constricted to constraints of s-bend corsets and tight clothing that were made to show every part of the female’s figure. But by the beginning of the 20th century, Chanel feminised the French word for boy, ‘garçon’, by being the pioneer for the ‘La Garçonne’ boyish French flapper look.

She created Garçonne dresses with masculine, straight structures and showed that women can look good in anything. And even though she claims she wasn’t a feminist, deep down we know she secretly was. 

Lets not forget Yves Saint Laurent

By 1966, Yves Saint Laurent gave birth to the first female tuxedo in the midst of the second-wave feminism. A garment that was meant to be worn, by men, in a smoking room to protect one’s clothing from the smell of cigars was recreated for the female body. 

Similarly, around this time, female fashion and music icon, Grace Jones, embodied the androgynous style. She continuously wore the suit in her performances and events, proving that women really do wear the trousers… and my god do they pull it off well. 

It became staple for designers to include a range of pantsuits in their collections and by the 1980s the power-suit was thriving. Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Anne Klein all had power suits in their collections and almost all of them included pants. 

Androgyny: It’s not just for women

Not only are women wearing the trousers, being fashion icons and powerful businesswomen, channelling the androgyny to a T. Likewise, many men, today, are embracing the androgynous style. Gender is not defined by what you wear, and man of fashion, Harry Styles, continues to blur gender stereotypes in fashion on a daily basis. 

Harry Styles has been the face of Gucci’s tailoring collection, worn a glittery jumpsuit and graced this year’s Met Gala theme ‘Camp’, with a frilly Gucci shirt and Vermeer-Esque pearl earring.

“What women wear. What men wear. For me, it’s not a question of that.” Styles doesn’t care what gender clothes are associated with and wears whatever he feels like wearing on stage and out in the streets. Just like women don’t care if trousers, suits and shirts and typically associated with men. More and more A-list celebrities today are going genderless with their fashion choices. If this doesn’t show that influences and stereotypes regarding fashion have changed drastically over the years, then what does?

Who wears the trousers today?

Today, brands such as Hardeman, One DNA and Bethnals are creating genderless fashion for everyone to wear. Designers are breaking down the boundaries between womenswear and menswear without sacrificing style. The term unisex is becoming one of the most popular searched categories when it comes to clothes, accessories and jewellery. 

Nearly every fashion retailer such as ASOS, Farfetch and Zara (to name a few) have a collection full of suits for women and typically masculine styles in the women’s section. With a market value of 6.2 billion dollars, ASOS is the fourth largest company in the UK and has annual sales of 1.8 billion pounds. Sales of women’s suits have increased by 178% according to ASOS Design, while the fashion search platform lyst.co.uk says searched for “women’s pantsuit” and “women’s suits” have collectively increased by 78% since the beginning of November (2019).

Do we really need androgynous fashion?

Despite all the positivity surrounding androgynous fashion, do we really need it to show we are strong, independent women? For sure, it’s about time that the fashion industry is becoming more genderless. Not focusing on the structures of bodies to fit a certain type of clothing. Women and men have more freedom today in their choice of clothing. More and more women wear men’s clothing and even men are choosing to wear women’s clothing. But ladies, we don’t need masculine clothing to prove our strength. 

Today clothing doesn’t define our power in society. Clothing sure can help in sending a message or making people look at us in a certain way. But our personalities, skills and voices say enough about our incredible selves. Androgynous fashion may have fought for feminism in the past but today… today we fight for feminism by just being us. 

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