At the recent PROJECT New York show, a chat was held with the explanation that “fashion is always changing and the current iteration is creating space for gender fluidity.” The message was clear. Stores and brands that embrace gender-fluid apparel and merchandising are well positioned to appeal to a wider range of customers.
For starters, the PROJECT show chat was a lively course on how to reach consumers who don’t necessarily want gender-specific clothing.
As Travis Weaver, founder of One DNA Clothing, explains when explaining what gender fluid fashion means: “It’s like breaking down the dichotomy and feeling like our society is less bound by what’s being said. In Western culture men have to wear suits. But in Africa In the country men wear a different garment that in Western culture is considered a dress. You have to feel free to express yourself in a way that shows who you really are.”
Rob Smith, founder of gender-free fashion, activism and education brand The Phluid Project, compared the word fluid to moving between two spaces like the water in a river.
“It goes back and forth easily,” Smith said at the PROJECT event. “And when we consider both sides of the river to be constructions, we look at each of these, whether it’s gender, religion, race, age, and ask ourselves, ‘Am I this or that? The ability to say, “Am I this?” When I think that, many of us are more “this and that.” Being curious and authentic is what brings it out. “
According to the 2019 Cotton Inc., a majority of consumers (70%) said they would like apparel brands and retailers to be more inclusive in both their products and advertising. lifestyle monitor™ Survey. And more than 8 in 10 consumers (83%) say they want the fashion industry to offer additional fits and sizes.
A survey by the NPD Group found that 40% of U.S. consumers have purchased clothing or shoes outside of their gender identity.
“Size and fit (22%), comfort (21%) and price (16%) were the primary reasons for these purchases,” said Classi-Zummo. “The active and comfortable movement that has gained momentum over the last few years has helped spread gender-neutral trends. Personal reasons also play a role and were true for 5% of respondents. While this number may seem small, the trend is gaining traction because social movements are also catalysts for self-expression and breaking outdated notions of gender identity. “
Weaver said One DNA appeals to consumers because of its increased size. But the brand is also committed to educating customers on how One DNA sizing works.
“We’re very conscious of communicating sizes, measurements, and showing clothes online to different groups of people,” Weaver said. We offer it, and the pants have an elastic waist to accommodate different sizes.”
Relaxed fits and elastic waistbands have universal appeal for today’s consumers. Shoppers rank comfort (95%) and fit ( 95%) ranked high. monitor™ Research. These factors are followed by price (89%), durability (89%), style (85%) and color (83%).
Selling gender-fluid fashion has its benefits, but it’s not without its challenges. Weaver said the fashion industry is still very dichotomy and marketing is segregated.
“So we need to push buyers a little bit and educate them on what the clothes look like when they’re featured in multiple sections of the company’s website,” he said. , it’s really rewarding to let people know that we can sell to more people.”
Weaver and Smith noted that gender-fluid merchandising could work in all areas of retail. Consumers now shop for clothes at mass retailers such as Walmart and Target (59%). monitor™ Research. This is followed by Amazon (46%), chain stores such as Kohl’s (40%), department stores (34%), specialty stores such as Gap and American Eagle (33%), and off-price retailers (33%).
Smith agreed that retailers still largely separate men’s and women’s departments in stores, but said there are ways to overcome that even in established brick-and-mortar stores.
“Some people shop for men’s, some shop for women’s, and that’s where they’re comfortable,” he said. “I would like to add a third section. If you are an existing business, create a small space in the middle and do an all-gender shop.
“A lot of it is also in the way we tag our products,” says Smith. “Maybe we can tag the sweaters as men’s and women’s. Even when I work with big box stores, I say, “Why don’t we just take the women’s dress down and just say dress?” Make it a suit instead of a man’s suit. It changes the game. I grow my business by inviting more people to my space. “
The Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ survey is an ongoing research program that measures consumer attitudes and behaviors regarding apparel, shopping, fashion, sustainability and more.
For more information on the Lifestyle Monitor™ survey, please visit https://lifestylemonitor.cottoninc.com/.