The definition of androgyny is a combination of masculine and feminine characteristics, creating a gender ambiguity. Traditionally the fashion world only really referred to skinny supermodels in pant suits, leather jackets and boyfriend jeans as androgynous, but we are finally waking up to the fact that androgyny, like feminism, is not just about women; its about quality for both genders. No longer a label evocative of Fruit of The Loom polo shirts, unisex is the new cool.
Of course there are brands that were unisex from the get go, not simply jumping on the bandwagon now that gender neutral clothing is on trend. UK brands Abandon Ship Apparel, Oddly Normal and Boy London spring to mind as brands that don't simply pass off typically masculine designs for women as unisex, instead simply creating cool clothing for all. Although now defunct, American Apparel did unisex way before it was cool. And even fast fashion giant Zara released their 'Ungendered' collection last year (albeit to mixed responses).
In terms of high-end designer brands, Vivienne Westwood has been a huge pioneer of unisex fashion. From the SS13 Gold label show ‘Climate Revolution’ t-shirt project, to the AW13/14 idea of 'girlfriend wearing her boyfriend’s clothes' and the following SS14 unisex knitwear collection. In AW 15/16 female models walked in men's shows, men modelled dresses and corsets, and women wore Saville Row tailored men’s suits. Canadian fashion designer Rad Hourani was the first designer ever to have an entirely unisex show at Paris Couture Week. His carefully curated collections focus on the human body, forming neutral silhouettes that an be styled on every gender.
And its not just clothes that have to be for boys or girls, never both. From health and beauty to food, kids toys to alcohol, traditional consumer industries are shaking away their sexist connotations.
Whether you call it genderless, non-gendered, non-binary, unisex, androgynous, agender...fashion no longer has to live up to feminine or masculine stereotypes.