The role of gender is starting to dissipate in the fashion world since the most recent trends of women wearing suit ties and men wearing crop tops. In the past, clothing was designed to appeal to the targeted gender. Now, we are seeing gender fluidity with clothing and clothing trends, targeted less towards gender-specific audiences and more toward one audience: everyone and anyone.
Diversity in fashion is becoming more common in more fashion designers’ work. Claire, who has asked to be called only by their first name, is the designer and creator of CLAIRE UPCYCLED, an eco-friendly and gender-neutral clothing brand. Claire describes their clothes as ‘wearable art’ and says no one needs to identify as anything specific to wear their shirts.
“I just feel even in clothing (pronouns) is too affirming sometimes,” Claire says. “Identifying yourself is very healthy, but also for some like myself, it is too affirming. I am just living in my own world of fashion, in CLAIRE UPCYCLED.”
Claire focuses on diversity in fashion in an economic and humanitarian way. In the economic sense, Claire designs 99 per cent of their pieces from recycled clothing, which involves clothing donations or pieces of recycled scrap clothing. If there is a specific item or colour Claire needs, then they will go to a vintage store to find it. Only very rarely will Claire actually buy something new for their pieces, and if they do, it is from a second-hand store.
In the personable sense, Claire designs everything without a targeted gender.
“Fashion to me doesn’t have a gender,” Claire says. “I know it’s definitely targeted in that sense, and we’ve been growing up with ‘men’s small,’ and ‘women’s medium.’ So a huge part of navigating my business is trying to break down those stigmas.”
Claire doesn’t assign sizes or gender to their clothing. Claire says they make their clothes loose-fitting to achieve, as Claire says, a “comfy-sexy” look.
“I try to make the clothing as accessible as possible. I don’t want there to be any restrictions,” Claire says. “Just because it is a ‘men’s’ shirt,’ there is going to be hot pink in there.”
Another artist breaking the gender stereotypes in fashion is David Ezomoh, popularly known as David Zala. Ezomoh has two different fashion lines, one is “ZALAHARI,” which is traditional African attires with a contemporary Western take. The second, being his most recent brand, is “David Zala,” his suit line for both men and women.
Ezomoh says he has never thought in “reverse,” when it comes to clothes for specific genders.
Ezomoh says designing clothes specifically for a man or a woman is not his style. He says he specifically designs suits for women to “encourage them in all walks of life.”