Remaining creative, while also respecting the fact that style will always be subjective to the consumer is critical in our pursuit of inclusion. The person that is searching for gender fluid apparel has as much of a range in their style as anyone else and it’s the designers responsibility to contribute to the full spectrum of these options.
When our journey of redesigning vintage clothing to create gender inclusive streetwear began, it was mostly difficult to explain, but this is where the successful creativity exists in the consumers eyes. When a concept is unfamiliar, there is an inherent space open to the idea. However the challenge is going to obviously be the lack of inspiration or lessons learned from those who achieved success before. This conflict offers up the best resolution: learn from the people.
What I discovered is that there was a feel that all sides could relate to and that was the idea of “stolen” or “borrowed” apparel, whether it be a partner, a musician, a sibling or an older relative. We enjoy the idea of wearing a garment in multiple ways and the easiest form of that is taking your partners cardigan and wearing with your favorite jeans or something to that narrative.
Vintage clothing offers a very unique perspective to this in that the days of the 60’s and 70’s found us merging music with a very strong gender blend. Purple hues and soft velvets were being worn by those that also appreciated corduroy jackets and suspenders, which all made way for the 80’s that truly allowed anyone to wear anything.
When the thought came to accessories, I think the challenge was raised a bit because accessories only have so many ways to be worn so it really did come down to creating context behind each piece. Something for designers to consider is to resist telling people how to wear an item and instead discover how their audience naturally wears and moves in their clothing.
This is how the Boho Beaded Scarves were developed. Inspired by the hair bands and their amazing boas, I began to source lightweight, soft scarves of a variety of colors. When considering the flow and shimmer of the boa, my mind went to crystals, metals, stones and glass to create an effect that would match either elegance or punk, dependent on whatever perspective you were applying. Then the sound of these scarves was unique specifically to you, based on your gait, posture, shoulder and hand movement, meaning you were always creating a subtle sound that only you could make. This now could truly be an accessory that was made for all.
Like most things in life, there is a simple principle when it comes to donning unique or unfamiliar attire: Just wear it.
I get asked all of the time how should some of my pieces be worn and either I give multiple examples, because some direction can be valuable, or I tell them I have no idea. The ability to wear an item based upon your comfort and confidence is essentially what makes apparel gender inclusive.