THE (UN) GENDERING OF FASHION WEEK
And the boom of conscious, sustainable and gender fluid fashion in London Fashion Week 2019
By Aashna Bhatia
After a long, rushed and fashioned induced week, London Fashion Week has now finally come to a close.
Attending my first fashion week was nothing short of an enthralling experience in itself. The world of fashion, filled with its eclectic trends, people and nuances made me realise that the relationship between fashion and gender is one that is age old. Clothes in a way have always been gendered. Be it the kind of silhouettes one must wear, the archaic divide between men and women, his and her section has always gendered clothes into a binary. But LFW 2020 I feel, breaks the mould and widely displayed “gender-neutral” or “gender-fluid clothing”.
The idea that human beings are either male or female is deeply ingrained in us due to society and its cultural appropriation. But as research and the experience of various non-conformists show, sex and gender aren’t binary. So why should clothing be? These rules that men and women must wear specific clothing according to their gender was unlearnt throughout LFW in the shows that I saw.
The first show was the UNDERAGE SS20 Collection. The passion project of designer Ying Shen, UNDERAGE as a brand projects an image where sensuality reigns supreme. The clothes in itself were a power symbol as they drew inspiration from the likes of The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift and the Freemasons. The collection helps one picture a whole new world order with unorthodox but aesthetic pieces.
From the layering, to the warm neutral colours, everything in the SS20 presentation was loaded with symbolism. The model’s shoes had the effect of melting,the dynamic prints drew reference from cult imagery and the deconstructed silhouettes are a reference to the dynamic changing social commentary in fashion over decades.
Ying Shens silhouettes, her comfortable layering creates an environment for the “experimental youth”. The collection is a celebration of body and gender, a story of challenging social conventions and breaking free from the shackles of conformity. Underage celebrates sexual liberation and the empowered through a playful spirit.
The next show that I was lucky enough to witness was the pushBUTTON SS20 Runway Show. Founded by former K-Pop star turned designer Seung Gun who has changed the course of fashion through pushBUTTON’s futuristic but wearable pieces since its inception in 2003. His clothes and visual come from his unconstrained imagination and these became the DNA and identity of pushBUTTON. The collection this year explored the huge and disappointing difference between the imagined 21st century and the 21st century we live in. The power of storytelling in pushBUTTON’s imagery made me a fan of the show and the brand.
Their philosophy is simple. “Fashion is genderless, and style can change infinitely depending on the philosophy of the wearer.” A major ode to the glamorous but lonely lives of starlets in the 70’s and 80’s pushBUTTON managed to convey the same massage that was so central to LFW this year, that fashion transcends gender binaries”.
We’ve stepped into an era of gender fluidity, an era of inclusion and an era that celebrates diversity and difference and celebrates it. I’ll remember this years Fashion Week as the year that blurred the boundaries between sexes, eradicated stereotypes and opened up the door to endless possibilities.
Can’t wait to see what’s in store next year.
Writer for We Hate Pink
Masters student at London School of Economics, pursuing a degree in Gender, Media and Culture.
She is writing about Gender, Media Representation and Trends. Focus on cultural practices across different countries and the psychology behind politics