Seven Emerging Designers Leading Gender-Neutral Fashion
The strict divide between so-called “women’s wear” and “men’s wear” is beginning to soften. Over the last handful of fashion seasons, progressive labels — including big names like Alexander Wang, Rachel Comey, and Hood by Air, as well as countless indie brands — have begun reforming their collections from the stringent separation of women's and men's that has long defined apparel categorization. Many big names have abandoned separate fashion week presentations, opting to show an entire season at once on a cadre of models (professional and not-so-much) whose gender identities and personal style push binary conventions.
But it's the younger, emerging designers who are really driving the conversation.
As such, we'd like to introduce you to seven of our favorite up-and-coming designers doing gender-neutral fashion right now. From design ethos to end product, these labels are taking charge of a future where clothing goes beyond "his" and "hers." Scroll on to get acquainted, and be ready to say you knew them when.
Brooklyn-born, London-based designer Chelsea Bravo started off in menswear and has since relaxed into gender-neutral fashion. Her designs are based around fluidity and open shapes with a focus on how the body moves and feels within each garment. Bravo pushes design through thoughtful construction, bold shapes and moldable silhouettes ultimately creating beautifully-crafted garments that bridge the gap between form and function. Loose fabrics, contrast details and subtle layers are formed to create a soft, minimalist look. Consciously designing with the future of the planet in mind, Bravo focuses on natural and sustainable materials such as hemp and organic cotton. Her garments are intended to not only mean something today but to go on and mean something forever.
WHY GENDER-NEUTRAL? “Because clothes have no gender.”—Chelsea Bravo
Photo by Nadine Ijewere
After a successful crowdfunding campaign with Kickstarter, New York-based designer Travis Weaver launched One DNA. The collection offers a simple proposition with sophisticated deftness: Basic clothing designed without the limitations of gender, size, or race in mind. Weaver doesn’t see the collection as erasing gender, but rather ignores the dividing line between women’s and men’s clothing. With non-binary standards, the label’s collections offers a range of wardrobe staples such as oversized woven tees, cropped hoodies, and freeform tunic shapes constructed using soft cotton and cotton blends. Gender-neutral in both silhouette and fabrication, One DNA’s design makes everyone feel included.
WHY GENDER-NEUTRAL? “Whether an item is labelled women's or men's — it's not that relevant to me. In the past, when I would go shopping I'd be browsing the women's section and inevitably a sales associate would shout out, "The men's is downstairs!" as if I was somehow mistaken. So I started designing clothes for myself that were not men's or women's but were just the clothes that I wanted to wear. Now, with One DNA, I've carried that idea forward. Our ongoing, core collection is entirely gender-neutral. But it's important to note that we put a lot of time and thought into the designs so they have character and a point of view. People can decide for themselves how feminine they will go, or masculine, or whatever, depending on how they style the clothes. Furthermore, we make a lot of oversized pieces to allow for various body types — our oversized hoodie is based on a 4XL, for example. That's basically the philosophy behind One DNA: Blurring boundaries around gender, body size, age, and so on, and being more open-minded.”—Travis Weaver
Photo by Simon Black
Seattle-based line Zed began as a menswear label but it appeals, and sells, to both men and women. Designer Ty Ziskis produces thoughtfully functional pieces that focus on simplicity, rooted in the theory that good design is as little design as possible. With gender-neutral silhouettes, his collection is suitable for anything from travel to work to weekending.
WHY GENDER-NEUTRAL? “In my world, gender is not something for clothing to be defined by. The clothing I create, or any clothing for that matter, won’t feel right on for everyone. Everyone is trying to feel something different through the way we express ourselves through dressing. This process of personal style is not driven by the pronoun we use to identity ourselves.”—Ty Ziskis
I AND ME
After spending 10 years working in the fast fashion industry — including a gig as head buyer at Topshop — Jessica Gebhart broke away from this scene to start her own, environmentally-friendly collection of premium denim. Founded in 2015, I AND ME focuses on clothes that are simple and well constructed, with fabric and fit driving each collection. Get ready for utilitarian shapes, soft jersey fabrics and denim cut to perfection.
WHY GENDER-NEUTRAL? “We design garments to love forever; the ones you can always rely on to complete your outfit. This responsible way of shopping compliments our genderless mentality. We focus on the longevity in the design and quality of our clothes rather than gender.”—Jessica Gebhart
SEEKER is a gender and age inclusive collection designed by Allyson Ferguson. Garments are designed for fluid movement of both the spirit and the body, creating an effortless and ethical daily uniform for all. With a focus on sustainable materials — such as richly textured organic hemp and cotton, along with the occasional appearance of silk and cashmere — the pieces elevate the notions of comfortable and casual, designed to mold to the personhood of the wearer, no matter the gender. Think relaxed fit canvas chinos, loose button-ups with mandarin collars, and traditional gee-styled kimonos in an array of hues like mustard, blush and sky grey.
WHY GENDER-NEUTRAL? “SEEKER focuses on gender-inclusive garments because that really is all we know. Growing up, I always sought after clothing that made a statement and was also comfortable. Mens clothing didn't quite fit and women's clothing was just too specific. It led me on a path where I altered EVERYTHING with acute awareness to style and silhouette. We believe all ages and gender should be included, so we design with the intention to include everyone.” —Allyson Ferguson
Photo by Chloe Horseman + Cobe Yarner
Outsized by nature and by design, 69 is an avant garde clothing label established and produced in Los Angeles. The line launched in 2011, inspired by the works of Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake, and by the longstanding history and universal appeal of denim. This trailblazing brand shatters conventions with its non-gender,non-demographic approach to design. Its garments – cocoon dresses, tall tees, next-level jumpsuits, and more – are designed with neutrality in mind, so that everyone can relate in one way or another to the shapes. Fun fact: the designer remains completely anonymous!
WHY GENDER-NEUTRAL? “It's inclusive; no one likes to feel left out.” -–69 designer
Photo c/o Oroboro
s.k. manor hill
Born and raised in San Francisco, Dominic Sondag first studied fashion design in Florence. Sondag was inspired by Italians’ appreciation of fashion, art, history, and craft. After beginning his design career in Europe, he moved to New York City to work with Engineered Garments’ production and design teams. It was his interaction with designer Daiki Suzuki that pushed him to launch his own collection in spring 2016. Although often labeled as menswear, s.k. manor hill is designed for all. Sondag is inspired by vintage garments and classic silhouettes and concentrate on craftsmanship, timeless design, and long lasting quality. From Moroccan-style overshirts to richly-patterned baggy pants, house coats, and scarves, s.k. manor hill dismisses gender and invites anyone to be a wearer.
WHY GENDER-NEUTRAL? “Why not? I really like women wearing ‘men's’ clothes. I draw inspiration from all types and forms of clothes. I don't want any restrictions and I am opposed to labels. I wish it could just be called ‘clothing,’ but it seems that we have to categorize and label things for the consumer.”—Dominic Sondag