Gender-free fashion takes on a renewed sense of purpose, gaining significance as transgender and non-binary representation achieves nuance in news and entertainment media. With Billie Eilish-baggy hoodies and jeans, Gen Z gives oversized silhouettes a certain cool factor. With their Mx online store tab (featuring products styled with an “all-gender focus”), Gucci provides the category with credibility in global luxury. American designer Joseph Altuzarra, with his new Altu brand designed to fit the full spectrum of gender expressions, debuts a new term: genderful dressing.
In his Altu manifesto, Altuzarra presents genderful design as created "through the lens of adolescent curiosity and uninhibited gender expression." This freedom allows for a fresh perspective on clothing: a creative space for experimentation with fashion that is not dependent on pronouns. Most simply, it's about dressing your body in a way that reflects a piece of your personality that you'd like to convey without words. So start your genderful journey with our curation of pieces designed outside fashion's binary gender categories.
Nigerian brand NKWO's Parachute Top, hand-dyed in Abuja by local artisans using traditional techniques, can be customized for various body shapes. This design is not premised on any particular form of gender expression. The drop shoulders and drawstring hem create a cocoon shape around a knot detail on one side and shirt buttons on the other. This piece could be worn as a top or mini dress, depending on your height. The drawstrings give you control over the length and the option to create an asymmetric silhouette by fastening one side only. Undoing a few buttons means you can tweak your neckline to accommodate jewelry and base layers. One-upping an actual parachute, the top can be worn back to front—who's to say which is which?
The Deconstructed Shirt
Utilizing the classic shirt's ability to slot into wardrobes regardless of gender, IAMISIGO creates a mashup statement that merges three shirts into one. Made in Kenya from upcycled cotton, the design holds attention by placing familiar elements in unexpected places. An extra collar emphasizes the left shoulder, while another wraps around the waist. Two sleeves drape down the right hip to create the piece's overall asymmetry, while another hangs casually down the back with chic nonchalance. A design that's as formal as it is playful, you could dress it up with gold hardware for the evening or down with casual slides for daytime.
Orange Culture's Bobo set is an easy-wearing example of designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal's design vision to create universal styles that reject silhouette stereotypes. Made in Lagos using upcycled raw silk, the iridescent purple-y blue colorway gives these casual pieces a glamorous sheen. Worn together or separately, their simplicity makes for wonderfully open-ended styling possibilities. Accessorizing is an easy way to give the set a stamp of individuality. The sweatshirt's clean neckline is a perfect base for your favorite necklaces. Pair the shorts with sneakers for a sporty moment, or toughen them up with a chunky pair of boots. As long as it feels aligned with your personal aesthetic, there's no such thing as a bad styling choice.
There's a bold simplicity to South African label Viviers' Cocoon Cape. The ankle-length coverall is a unique piece untethered from fashion's usual season, trend, and gender markers. Light brown and cream tones are calming in their neutrality and complemented by meticulous design details. The front and back vents, in-seam pockets, and zip fastening add practical value. Vivier's artisans handcraft this piece using pure cotton and vintage sinamay, a natural straw fabric made from Abaca plant fibers. While worn out and about, there's no question this is an attention-grabbing piece. Still, its minimalist palette and fuss-free design won't overpower your personality, ensuring it remains your look's central focus.
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