A hot topic in the recent fashion industry, “Agender fashion”, was first put forward in Men’s Fashion Week 2016 Spring/Summer. One of the most representative brands is Gucci. Inspired by women’s dresses released in 1970s, Gucci applied the new cutting method used in European autumn and winter court dress to the new series of clothes including lace shirt with high rise jeans, silk jacket, ribbon bow, and plant printing fitting suit. They fully demonstrated the beauty of men’s tenderness. In this show, the mixture of male and female models was innovatively adopted as the appearing method.
This show ensures Gucci a prompt return to the center of fashion stage and makes Gucci become one of the hottest brands of this year. It also brings huge economic benefits to Gucci. The success of this marketing strategy brings a big attention on the concept “Agender fashion” in whole fashion world. Even in Taobao, some mass-market brands have respectively released some men’s clothes with light pink as the dominant color. It’s obvious that the concept of “Agender fashion” has become a very pop trend.
By putting forward the concept of “Agender fashion”, fashion industry aims to form the trend that no gender difference exists in clothes by breaking the dress code, rule, and taboo followed by both male and female under traditional context.
“Agender fashion” is to add women’s fashion symbols to standard male image model under traditional definition? This image belongs to neither the traditional male image model nor the traditional female image model. It’s an idealized image model defined by a new standard.
Moreover, the concept of unisex garment is put forward in fashion industry referring to the similar clothes designed both for man and woman. For example, after the cooperation between Kanye West and Adidas, many unisex garments are released. No one can obviously tell whether it’s men’s clothes or women’s clothes. In fact, this concept is not a fresh concept. Unisex garment can be frequently found in dark series clothes. The most representative brands are CCP, BBS, and RICK OWENS. Therefore, from the perspective of unisex garment, “Agender fashion” equals to “Gender Blur Dress”.
At present, most people regard one’s appearance and sexual behavior as the criteria to judge one’s sex orientation. Although these criteria are of some reference value, the actual categories are not such simple. Three dimensions including biological gender, psychological gender, and sexual orientation are involved. They are mutually independent and correlated.
Biological gender refers to one’s chromosomal gender, which means the gender of one’s genital organ. Psychological gender, also called gender identity, refers to one’s subjective feeling that whether one is male or female. Independent from biological gender and psychological gender, sexual orientation is a kind of mental state referring to the “enduring” pattern of romantic or sexual attraction (or a combination of these) to persons of the opposite gender, the same gender, or both genders or more than one gender.
The “Enduring” is very important because a heterosexual may encounter homosexual behavior and a homosexual may encounter heterosexual behavior. Of course, special circumstance is the prerequisite of the above two conditions. For example, female fans love the neutral-gender style stars not because they tend to become homosexual or bisexual. They are just attracted by the male characteristics of their female idols. Thus, occasional sexual behavior and external image shall not be the criteria to judge one’s sexual orientation. Some homosexuals may wear the clothes of the opposite gender just because they prefer to imitate the lifestyle and the behaviors of the opposite gender. Thus, it has no direct relation with the “Agender Fashion” clothes.
Some other concepts including transgender, gender change, and transvestism are frequently confused with the concepts of asexuality and neutral style because of similarities of external representation among these concepts.
Transvestism is the most confusing concept in the discussion of “Agender Fashion”. The two concepts can both be used to modify the man who wears clothes with female symbols. However, concretely speaking, transvestism refers to a kind of sexual psychopathy that one can obtain sexual excitation from wearing the clothes of the opposite gender. Additionally, it’s a kind of mental illness with man being the dominant patient. They prefer to get sexual excitation and achieve sexual satisfaction by wearing women’s clothes.
For them, their biological gender is consistent with their psychological gender and they don’t hope to change their gender. Moreover, from the public’s point of view, their sexual orientation is normal because they love people of the opposite gender. Therefore, transvestism is totally different from the concept of “Agender Fashion”. The former refers to the abnormal sexual behavior of wearing the clothes of opposite gender while the latter refers to the styling and clothes with symbols of the opposite gender. Agender Fashion only refers to one’s dress style and aesthetic taste. In addition, it has nothing to do with physiology, mentality or sexual behavior.
Transgender is a collective noun with a wide range of types included. It can be briefly summarized as those who have no self-cognition of his born biological gender. Thus, they are likely to regard themselves as the people of the opposite gender or another gender independent of the opposite. This concept is relatively complex with gender change being the most typical representation form. It’s easy to tell the difference between gender change and “Agender Fashion”. In medical science, transsexualism is defined as a kind of gender identity disorder. In essence, it refers to the condition that one’s biological gender is inconsistent with psychological gender. Thus, this group of people may have the demand of changing gender. Although they have definite biological gender, they still regard themselves as the people of the opposite gender.
Gender identity disorder is obvious different from the transvestism mentioned above because the latter is a mental illness belonging to the category parasexuality. On the contrary, gender identity disorder is an inherent state that cannot be categorized into mental illness. People of this kind also prefer to wear the clothes with the symbols of the opposite gender, but their aim is to act as the people of the opposite gender and they firmly believe that a true soul of the opposite gender is wrapped in such clothes.
In addition, on this basis, it’s easy to understand the recent buzzword cosplay that refers to the art form that avails clothes, accessories, stage property, and makeup to play the roles in cartoon and games. Thus, it’s also called roll play and it has become a part of fan culture. We must understand that the coser only plays a fixed role in cosplay. For example, a male coser may wear women’s clothes and the relevant cosmetics due to the requirement of a certain role. Therefore, it has nothing to do with his psychological gender, biological gender, and sexual orientation because they just want to vividly play the role with the help of the clothes and makeup.
So, the concept of “Agender Fashion” doesn’t point to any specific group of people. The proposing of this concept reflects the positive attitude in fashion industry. At present, we live in a pluralistic society featuring the promotion of humanism and individualism. The traditional gender concept that men plays the key role in the society while women are confined to the family chores witnesses constant reflection and transform, which not only influences the stand of male and female in society and in their careers but also breaks the traditional dress code and taboo. The proposing of this concept is a good way to show that our society is advancing to a highly civilized society featuring the equality of men and women. To some extent, it also shows that our society is a society with diversified value systems.
From another perspective, the concept of “Agender Fashion” is the reflection of the collective demand of the current people especially for the younger generation after 80s. They seek for individuality and freedom and prefer to wear gender-free clothes. Thus, it shows that the current younger generation prefers the dress with their own personal style without considering whether it’s men’s clothes or women’s clothes. As described in
Chapter Model and Individual
in the book
written by Liang Wendao, pop music is a kind of collective emotion pattern. We are involved in the shape of collective identity when we hear these songs.
David Riesman said that what we really need today is not the machine, wealth, or works but a kind of individuality. As for the current people, does the pursuit of self-individuality stick unique label on every one of us or just show that we comply with a certain kind of example/model or a symbol? In the next episode, we will move on to the discussion about the basic concept of consumer society on the basis of the phenomenon of Agender Fashion and the relationship among fashion, individualism, subculture, counterculture and art.