Gender neutral clothing is the next big thing in fashion
For example, teen retailer PacSun’s summer 2021 marketing campaign features what it calls “genderless” styles, a category it introduced in September 2020.
It includes a new line of sexless eco-friendly PacSun fashion called Color Theory with a variety of cotton-based staples, such as sweatpants and hoodies. The gender-neutral store on its website already has a collection of t-shirts, sweatpants, cargo and skinny pants in solid colors and tie-dye prints.
Most recently, in May, the clothing chain launched a new collection in collaboration with The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth ( LGBTQ). The gender-specific collection for children and adults includes t-shirts, shorts, hoodies, jackets, hats, sandals and perfume.
The clothes of the collections that the brands are launching are not limited to certain colors and fit separately for girls, boys, men and women. Instead, they’re “genderless” in that the fashion is fluid, not inherently masculine or feminine, and the styles can accommodate all body types.
Why retailers are grabbing
Stores have good reasons for deploying such collections.
In a December 2020 survey by global marketing and consulting firm Wunderman Thompson of 1,000 American consumers aged 16 to 24, 70% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that gender does not not define a person as much as before.
“Fashion reflects the culture and political beliefs of a generation, which are often led by younger people,” said Shawn Grain Carter, professor of fashion business management at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
“If mainstream retailers like Nordstrom and Saks are to survive, they have to reflect this generation’s value system to earn lifelong loyalty,” Carter said.
“We live in a binary society. So what I love about young Gen Z consumers is that they challenge that construct in everything, including fashion,” said Rob Smith, CEO and founder of the Phluid project.
On June 4, Saks Off Fifth launched its first exclusive line of gender-neutral clothing and accessories, 100% of the proceeds of which will be donated to the Phluid Foundation, the advocacy arm of the Smith brand. The collection features rainbow designs on t-shirts, hats, sneakers and tote bags for under $ 50.
Sara Griffin, senior vice president of marketing for Saks Off Fifth, said the collection with Project Phluid “is a first step” in responding to a younger generation of buyers who are less concerned with the traditional approach to the genre by clothing material.
“We are listening to our customers and will continue to make adjustments,” she said, adding that the company’s partnership with Phluid will continue with new merchandise in the fall.