The New-tral Catwalk

Rachel Hannon discusses how designers are opting to ride the gender-neutral wave.Since 1972, the Pitti Uomo festival has been held twice a year in Florence, to showcase men's clothing from designers around the world. This year, there was a difference. The new direction in gender-neutral clothing, which was first exhibited earlier this month, has begun to pave the way for a more forward-thinking approach in the fashion industry. This is something that the Pitti fashion addicts of the 1970s may not have been able to comprehend. The models on the catwalk are no longer wearing long, tweed busy-business men jackets, but are now pushing the gender boundaries of fashion. By covering the faces of those who walk the runway, they have allowed for discussion on the societal constraints on gender.Some of the main leaders in this silent revolution include Japanese designers such as Takahiro Miyashita and Jun Takahashi, as well as Finnish couple Timo and Niina Leskela, and CEO Claudio Del Vecchio. Part of Del Vecchio’s vision was to include female models to highlight the fact that this show is not all about males. Miyashita’s exhibition “The Soloist” led viewers to question the gender of the models by covering faces with hoods, and diverting attention to the futuristic sports-wear. “Undercover” by Takahashi presented us with long pleated skirts, as well as black cropped leather tops, all worn by men.
By covering the faces of those who walk the runway, they have allowed for discussion on the societal constraints on gender.
The Leskela couple also showcased a genderless style, in what could be described as a casual category. From long layered black tops, slim-line coats, to puffer jackets, this casual twist on the gender-neutral style is not only allowing the idea to become more accessible, but is also enabling high street retailers to adapt to the trend. John Lewis, Zara, and even H&M each provided their take on blurring the boundaries between gendered styles, and gender fluidity.Perhaps the next step is to make it easier to find gender-neutral clothes on the websites of these popular high street labels, instead of having strictly divided women and men’s sections. As founder and designer of LaneFortyfive has said, “you don’t look at food and say it’s going to be eaten by a man or a woman, so why should it be any different for clothes?” It is opinions like these that are diminishing the female/male binary in the fashion world and pushing towards accessible, open style over a gender divide.