The shock and drama created by Jean Paul Gaultier’s ‘Man-Skirt’ in the 80s would not raise as many eyebrows today, and this only reflects the times we live in. Women in trousers, as early as the 20th Century, have left the first few traces of what we call gender-neutral fashion. A pantsuit, long hair, or even skinny jeans among other things…whoever even decided to make these labels so as to categorise people genderwise? That we can’t answer. But we can tell you that people are now open to reason out these ideologies.
A Mindful Detour
International design labels like Ralph Lauren and Chanel have also embraced gender fluidity with recent campaigns. Even celebrities like Ruby Rose, Kristen Stewart, Cara Delevingne, are open-minded about the idea. And it doesn’t stop at, even India has jumped on the gender-bender bandwagon over the recent years. On investigating, we found out that this change hasn’t come about just recently. Gender-neutral dressing isn’t just a trend but a transformation in people’s thoughts. In fact, it directs us to get rid of the many labels attached to fashion. We have names like Purushu Aire, Chennai-based designer and blogger, who broke stereotypes by launching India’s first gender-neutral clothing label. Designer brands like Bodice, HUEMN, Antar-Agni, Nor Black Nor White have also released collections that define what we call having ‘zero definitions’ to dress up for a particular gender. Oh, and who can ever forget suave Ranveer Singh’s groundbreaking Anju Modi ensemble that he wore to promote a movie.
Design Fabric’s Wardrobe Potluck
If you thought this conversation only hovers around the fashion fraternity, Design Fabric’s upcoming event will prove you wrong. Started a year ago as a digital platform, Design Fabric is a collaborative space for visual artists to discuss design and art in India. And they’re now organising a one-of-a-kind workshop in Soul Patch Studio, Mumbai on 16 June, that will allow you not only to question gender-neutral dressing but also break the stereotypical idea attached to gender.
Calling it the Wardrobe Potluck, this workshop is for anyone who wants to experience genderless dressing. Participants will have to bring in their favourite outfits and Grazia India’s Senior Fashion Editor, Pasham Alwani will curate a gender-bending look for them, post which they’ll be photographed by Arsh Sayed. We spoke to Creative Producer at Design Fabric, Madhuvanti Mohan who is also the event organiser, on what inspired the team to conceptualise this, “We attended a workshop conducted by Alok Ved-Menon, non-binary poet and performer, and were completely shattered by the end of it. He was the inspiration behind this workshop. We think it is important to question subjects that are left unquestioned, and gender neutrality is one of it.”
The event will also have 16 visual artists who will reimagine their gender and create interesting artwork on the same. These pictures will then be published in their second topical monthly issue titled Image. Design Fabric’s Head Strategist Anant Ahuja gave us his take on gender neutrality in fashion, “I personally don’t confine to any particular form of dressing and feel comfortable in whatever I wear.”
We urge readers to take time off for such events that impart a never-before experience, one that isn’t possible otherwise. From being a country brawling for equality in all facets of life, we surely have come a long way. While the same hasn’t penetrated everywhere, we think even a single step at a time to greater acceptance must be applauded.