Everyone is talking about: gender fluid fashion
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“We want to make clothes that people can see themselves in. We never want to say ‘you can’t wear that’.”
David Bowie and Prince may have left this lonely planet for the great party in the sky, but the gender fluidity revolution they started is stronger — and more mainstream — than ever. At Lakme Fashion Week S/R 2017, designers neatly aligned themselves into two distinct camps. The first offered the kind of breezy hyper-feminine styles that we’ve grown so accustomed to seeing on summer runways. In the second camp on the opposite end of the spectrum, labels like Antar-Agni, Anuj Bhutani and The Pot Plant were organising a mutiny.
“People have reached a saturation point. They’re tired of the bling, tired of the ornamentation, tired of the segregation. They just want clothes that speak to the soul.”
That 30 percent of his clientele turned out to be women came as a surprise to Ujjawal Dubey. It was this serendipitous discovery after his first season at Lakme Fashion Week a few years ago that led Dubey to identify his label, Antar-Agni, with the gender fluid movement. The designer’s monastic colour palette and complicated draping techniques weren’t exactly an easy sell to Indian men either. “But once they wore the clothes, they instantly felt confident, felt free. That’s exactly the same feedback I got from my female clients,” Dubey says, explaining that his refusal to stick to a myopic vision of what constitutes menswear ended up attracting both sexes.
The story repeats itself on the racks at The Pot Plant and Anuj Bhutani. “We’ve designed shirt dresses that many of our male clients wear as kurtas,” says The Pot Plant co-founder Resham Karmchandani. Try rummaging through their new collection and save for a handful of garments, I dare you to assign an obvious gender orientation to their collection.
If normcore was about rejecting designer labels, gender fluid fashion takes that conversation to its logical climax. It encourages the rejection of the most basic, and to some folks, the most suffocating label of them all.
“I grew up wearing my parents’ hand-me-downs, and nobody ever told me I could only wear my mother’s dresses and not my father’s old shirts,” adds Karmchandani. “That philosophy of being able to wear whatever you want without worrying about labels just extended into our clothing.”