3/4 – Performing Gender Through Fashion

Figure 4.0

Today, major fashion designers like Chanel, Gucci, Balmain, Saint Laurent, and many more, have been trying to remove traditional gender roles in fashion. In 2017 the term ‘gender fluid’ was introduced. The term described clothing that could be worn by both men and women, by straight silhouettes that remove female or male figures, neutral colours, and a mixture of traditional gender items. Last year, Vogue magazine put out its August issue, with celebrity couple Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik wearing ‘gender fluid’ clothing (See figure 4.0).

Figure 5.0
Figure 6.0

The intention of the issue was to cater to the new generation who don’t see fashion as gendered. In addition, Louis Vuitton released a women’s wear collection that featured male celebrity Jaden Smith as a lead model (See Figure 5.0). This recent movement not only focuses on clothing, but also pays attention to the other physical attributes that can represent gender. For example, fashion shows and campaigns have been introducing men in makeup and jewellery, and women without either. This gender-bending approach to fashion allows for stereotypes of traditional gender roles to be called into question. Gucci dressed its female models in suits and their male models in floral patterns (See Figure 6.0). In addition, Thom Browne sent his male models down the runway in long grey skirts, and Vivienne Westwood, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, and Edward Crutchley sent theirs down in elaborate gowns. To further the idea of gender fluidity, designers have also been sending male and female models down the runway in the exact same outfits. This notion shows how fluid and non-binary fashion can be. It allows for the audience to see how ‘fashionable’ the clothes look on all genders. These major designers created a ripple effect in the world of fashion that had fast fashion stores such as Zara and ASOS, introducing ‘unisex’ and ‘ungendered’ collections. Overall the main purpose of these notions is that fashion should be comfortable and unique to each individual and these changes in the fashion industry show that identifiers like ‘male’ or ‘female’ are unimportant or irrelevant to millennials. Creating these collections that defy traditional gender roles, allow for society to adopt these views and portray them daily. It allows clothing to be gender neutral, non-binary, and free to interpretation. Therefore, fashion can be a shared collection for everyone, purely based on what each individual wants to wear in order to best represent their individuality.


Blumenfield, Tami & Harper, Susan & Mukhopadhyay, Carol. (2017). Gender and Sexuality. In Brown, Nina & González Laura & McIlwraith, Thomas, Perspectives (226-281). Arlington VA: American Anthropological Association.

Griffith, Lauren & Marion, Jonathan. (2017). Performance. In Brown, Nina & González Laura & McIlwraith, Thomas, Perspectives (351-374). Arlington VA: American Anthropological Association.

Rysst, Mari. (2010). I Am Only Ten Years Old: Femininities, Clothing-Fashion Codes and the Intergenerational Gap of Interpretation of Young Girls Clothes. Childhood, 17. Retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/abs/10.1177/0907568209351552

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