Newspaper article The Canadian Press

From Male Stars in Skirts to New Unisex Lines, Gender Lines Blurring in Fashion

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

From Male Stars in Skirts to New Unisex Lines, Gender Lines Blurring in Fashion

Article excerpt

Fashion blurs gender lines with unisex styles

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TORONTO - While most clothing remains categorized along gender lines, there is a growing movement among some fashion brands to blur the boundaries distinguishing styles for men and women.

Spanish-based retailer Zara recently launched Ungendered, a 10-piece collection encompassing T-shirts, joggers, sweatshirts, jeans and Bermuda shorts for both men and women.

Designer Nicola Formichetti, who previously crafted outlandish looks for Lady Gaga, is at the helm of genderless clothing line Nicopanda, with rose-printed T-shirts, hoodies with cutouts and pink parkas among its spring-summer offerings.

And Montreal-raised designer Rad Hourani has devoted his signature label to celebrating gender neutrality. While marking his fifth anniversary at Toronto Fashion Week in 2012, Hourani unveiled a utilitarian collection with military-inspired touches.

Beyond the runway, skirts have become embraced as stage style for artists like Justin Bieber and Kanye West. Jaden Smith -- the teen son of star couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith -- recently made a buzzworthy debut as the new face of Louis Vuitton when he wore a motorcycle jacket, fringed top and pleated skirt in the fashion house's spring-summer campaign.

When androgynous styles start to surface in fashion, it's typically reflective of a greater social shift driving the movement, said Dale Peers, professor and program co-ordinator in the school of fashion at Seneca College in Toronto.

Peers said in the 1920s, social freedoms given to women after patriotic service in the First World War and earning the right to vote translated to style changes symbolic of their new status, with more masculine-looking silhouettes seen in clothing.

The changes of a century ago seem to be resurfacing with the more recent embrace of gender-neutral styles, she noted.

"If we're looking from a social perspective at our hopefully greater acceptance of different lifestyles and ideas, then this is social phenomenon that is being reflected once again in the zeitgeist, and therefore, it has that influence in fashion," said Peers. …

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