Following recent strides forward towards gender inclusivity in fashion, the New York Times reported that Gucci is combining its menswear and womenswear shows, following a recent announcement by the design house's president and CEO Marco Bizzarri in Versailles. Other high fashion labels have announced similar intentions, with brands like Burberry, Tom Ford, and Vetements meshing their mens and womenswear shows so that both collections are shown on the same catwalk. This blurring of lines between traditionally masculine and feminine clothing isn't entirely new per se, but it does feel revolutionary. Rather than coming across as "just another trend" of sorts, such efforts can undoubtedly play a role in removing the gender binary from the fashion industry.
The first Gucci show to present menswear alongside womenswear is set to launch in 2017, at which point it will take place in Gucci's new Milan headquarters at Via Mecenate, Vice reported. This gives the brand almost an entire year to curate an event that might just help contribute to a new dawn for gendered fashion — or hopefully, un-gendered fashion. Even if the collection is simultaneously showing off the two different collections, rather than integrating male models into womenswear and vice versa, this is still a notable step forward for the world of fashion.
Speaking on the news, Vice's i-D reports that Bizzarri doesn't consider the shift a particularly political move, but a practical one. "Maintaining two separate, disconnected calendars has been a result of tradition rather than practicality," he said at the Luxury Conference in Versailles.
Although Bizzarri's sentiment comes with a neutral tone regarding gender identity and politics — much of the NYT article focuses on the financial practicality of the decision — this move still seems like it could be a step forward for both when you consider the brand's past. With female models like Hari Nef modeling Gucci's menswear collection in Milan mere months ago, as well as the appointment of new creative director Alessandro Michele last year — who is notorious for blurring the lines between the masculine and feminine — Gucci continues to push gender boundaries.
Alongside the general rise in public awareness and consciousness of gender identities outside of the male/female binary, it only makes sense for brands to cater to a world that's ready for lines to be blurred and for fashion to be more inclusive.
Although fashion has long played with notions of what gender actually means, this hybridization of menswear and womenswear by big name brands is undoubtedly contributing to shifting perceived notions of gender. The collections might still be uniquely menswear versus womenswear, but by presenting them on the same runway, the new format should still help lessen the divide between the genders. No longer is androgyny just a fashionable tool, but a social statement.
Personally, I hope that the combination of mens and womenswear does become a trend of sorts. With Gucci's addition, four well known, high fashion brands are not only taking note of the importance of changing gender politics, but contributing to those changes. The similarities between menswear and womenswear will only be highlighted by presenting the collections on the same catwalk. And if more labels follow suit, perhaps the notion will trickle down into the mainstream.
Even fast fashion brand Zara has released an un-gendered line — albeit to critique. We're already beginning to see the effect that blurring the gender binary can have in the real world. Through Gucci's move for multi-gender catwalks, I can only hope that more and more acceptance and visibility for transgender and non-binary identities comes with it. And who knows, hopefully one day the labels of menswear and womenswear will become arbitrary titles and the collections will combine.
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