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Generation Genderless - Issue #15

Generation Genderless
Generation Genderless
Hi - my name is Kris Harrington, CEO and Creative Director of Kris Harring Apparel Group. We specialize in gender-inclusive design strategy and product development.
Generation Genderless is your guide to the top news and insights covering gender equity and society within the fashion industry and beyond.

Industry News
Genderless Lingerie Brands Are The Future Of Underwear
When Louis Dorantes moved to Brooklyn in the late 2010s, the Parsons-trained designer began making going-out looks for the queer parties he attended. “It wasn’t just casually going to the neighborhood bar,” he says of his reasoning for creating his own designs. “These were very curated spaces with a lot of very talented people.” In 2020, inspired by the creative spirit of this nightclub scene, Dorantes launched Leak NYC, a genderless lingerie brand. 
Dorantes’ clothes are a celebration of freedom and self-expression. Think: mesh bodysuitsneon colorsunexpected cut-outs, and sportswear-inspired corsets, a range of styles that have traditionally been marketed toward women but, under Leak NYC, are encouraged to be worn by all. “I grew up in the Midwest, and it was very conservative,” he says. “I always felt like I had my hands tied behind my back with how to dress, how to be male-presenting, so it was so liberating to run with it, finally being able to just let all that go and challenge the binary.”
While brands like TomboyX and Aisle have disrupted the industry by offering boxer-style underwear catered to women and non-binary people, the industry has been slower in offering genderless underwear in traditionally femme styles. Now, though, as conversations about genderless fashion are becoming commonplace, more mainstream brands are following in the footsteps of people like Dorantes and TomboyX and starting to offer gender-affirming underwear options. (Read more on Refinery29)
Fashion and apparel lead way in North America e-commerce sales
It’s true that e-commerce growth is slowing amid inflation and reduced pandemic fears. But for the first time in history, U.S. retail e-commerce sales are projected to surpass $1 trillion in 2022, according to data from eMarketer. 
One industry in particular is leading the way. According to the inaugural e-commerce industry trend report from e-commerce platform BigCommerce (NASDAQ: BIGC), the fashion and apparel sector has been a North American e-commerce powerhouse so far in 2022.
BigCommerce surveyed the thousands of e-commerce merchants on its platform to figure out which industries sold the most online in the first quarter of 2022. It found fashion and apparel substantially outpaced overall e-commerce sales in North America — and it could be in store for a banner year the rest of the way.
The report first takes a look at the global e-commerce landscape, where fashion and apparel remains strong. So far in Q1, inclusive gross merchandise value (GMV) for global e-commerce has grown 3% year over year (y/y). But by the same measure, fashion and apparel has grown 19%.
During the same y/y stretch, average order volume for general e-commerce grew 3%, but fashion and apparel order volume rose 13%. Quarter over quarter (q/q), overall e-commerce order totals were flat, but fashion and apparel stores saw 5% more orders.
In North America, the difference was even more pronounced. E-commerce inclusive GMV for Q1 2022 grew 2% compared to last quarter, while average order value rose 3% and total orders declined 1%. For fashion and apparel, though, inclusive GMV gained 24% over Q1 2021, while average order volume and total orders were each up 13% on a quarterly basis.
Fashion and apparel have actually outpaced overall U.S. e-commerce for even longer. Between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, American fashion and apparel digital revenue grew 25%. In the same period, overall U.S. e-commerce revenue grew 19%.(Read More on FreightWaves)
Who Can Wear Gender-fluid Fashion?
The first time Wang Newton dressed in drag, she was in a fedora and three-piece suit, dancing and singing to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” A business school major at the time, the now drag king was discovering the fun of reinvention. “I felt smooth and confident in a sharp suit while still wearing make-up,” she explained.
Drag is the historical backdrop behind our new affinity for gender-fluid fashion. By its dated definition, the art form is about wearing clothing conventionally worn by the opposite sex. And off-stage, genderless fashion has never been more en vogue — so much so that it’s not inaccurate to say that most of us wear some form of gender non-conforming clothes in our day to day lives (sans the social scrutiny cast on drag kings and queens). But history shows us that what’s considered masculine or feminine is all relative.
As far back as the 17th century, Persian men on horseback wore heels so that they could shoot bows and arrows while standing in stirrups. Western Europeans later adopted heels in order to appear more virile and masculine — the more impractical, the better.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that blue came to be associated with boys and pink for girls; it used to be the opposite — pink was for boys because it came from red, and was seen as a stronger and more aggressive colour, and blue was seen as a softer colour. But today, much like Newton, designers and fashion lovers are breaking free of such gender constructs one power suit at a time.
Between Gen Z’s defiance of tradition to runways that reimagine the concepts of menswear and womenswear (take Marc Jacobs Fall 2022, a futuristic collection of oversized garments, or Balenciaga’s Spring 2023 show, in which models wore gimp suits that obscured their faces and bodies), we’re living in an age of self-expression where gender becomes an abstract part of the equation. As far as celebrities are concerned, people like Prince, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie were publicly pushing the boundaries of these binaries decades ago, and today it’s the likes of Billy Porter, Harry Styles and Lil Nas X.
But not everyone can participate in the trend equally. It’s riskier for artists of color, especially those identifying as LGBTQIA2S+, to openly dress in non-conforming ways. Whereas Harry Styles might be celebrated for his defiance of gender norms when it comes to clothing, for queer people of colour, the consequences of dressing outside the binary can mean put their lives and livelihood in jeopardy. That’s why It’s important to remember that the LGBTQIA2S+ community paved the way for today’s unabashed self-expression. (Read More on FASHION Magazine)
THE EDIT: THE DESIGNERS LEADING AFRICA’S GENDER NEUTRAL FASHION MOVEMENT
Today, many designer brands are evolving their design ethos to embrace a modern world where traditional gender lines are increasingly blurred. In fashion world, this change can be seen in unisex or genderless clothing that are designed to be worn by anyone. The idea isn’t that common womenswear items such as dresses or skirts are now being designed for men to wear, instead, fashion designers are now creating considered pieces that have simple shapes, relaxed silhouettes and bold colors that do not signal any particular gender identity.
Gender-inclusive fashion makes it easier for people to explore styles and trends outside of their comfort zones without worrying about fitting into sartorial stereotypes. Designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Nigerian brand Orange Culture has always described his label as a “movement” that seeks to create garments for “just about anyone who’s interested in telling a story with the way they present themselves”, believing that gender or sexuality are not meant to define the type of clothing one should or shouldn’t wear. Likewise, Ivorian brand Kente Gentlemen’s signature Baba and Soke pinstriped suit has been presented on men and women alike.
This is notable because of the often conservative culture present in many African countries. Traditional gender roles and conventional ways of dressing are still expected of both men and women, leaving little room for style explorations and experimentation. By defying gender norms and defining their own takes on what modern design means for an ever-changing society, African brands are showing that they are willing and able to join a relevant global movement that continues to grow.
Below are some African brands leading the charge at the intersection of fashion and gender inclusivity that you can shop now on The Folklore Marketplace. (Read More on The Folklore)
Fashion Tech
How Fashion Brands Can Enter The Metaverse
In recent years, the digital transformation of the fashion industry has gained significant momentum. Although digital demand for fashion and luxury could generate extra sales that reach $50 billion by 2030, according to investment bank Morgan Stanley (via The Business Of Fashion), the rise of the metaverse still represents a big challenge for luxury brands—but also a massive opportunity. Fashion houses have tried to find new ways to stay relevant in the digital world. Since the Web3 space of the internet will surely take years to develop, social gaming and NFTs could open up powerful opportunities for fashion to develop digitally. The metaverse could be the next evolution of how you use the internet, interact, work, play online and eventually dress yourself.
Enter the space through event activations.
One option for entering the metaverse with impact lies in event activations within video games’ framework. Gaming platforms offer a place where brands can exhibit their collections in a new way through digital events such as fashion shows or immersive experiences inside the creative director’s world. The unrestrained experience artists can enjoy in the metaverse may be what makes it interesting and exciting.
For example, Gucci partnered with Roblox in 2021 and invited visitors to embark on a unique trip in the virtual Gucci Garden on the platform. Entering the metaverse is also about marketing a fashion brand to a new demographic. As a matter of fact, social gaming gathers many players and their avatars together; collaborating with gaming and metaverse platforms can thus allow brands to engage with new communities. These communities are made up of consumers who are immersed in the metaverse and likely willing to connect virtually with beauty and fashion brands.
Balenciaga’s attempt to access Web3 was also a success. Through a collaboration with Fortnite, Balenciaga created a line of authentic Balenciaga x Fortnite looks, also called skins, that users could purchase for their gaming avatars. In addition, they were featured on three-dimensional billboards around the world, so they received additional attention. As part of fashion’s integration into the digital landscape, we have also seen the first Metaverse Fashion Week gather a mix of brand activations. Brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Etro and Elie Saab seized the opportunity to expand their points of entry by taking part in that metaverse fashion moment. (Read More on Forbes)
Bacardi Uses QR Codes to Create ‘Wearable Album’
Bacardi wants people to support up-and-coming artists by donning a “wearable album.” The branded merch incorporates QR codes, encouraging viewers to get out their phones and discover new songs, simply by scanning the decorated apparel. It’s part of the rum brand’s Music Liberates Music program – which aims to help underrepresented artists gain recognition. According to Bacardi, with a new song released every second of the day in the summer, it can be incredibly difficult for new artists to break through.
So, Bacardi paired up with high-end streetwear designer NAHMIAS and Grammy-winning producer Boi-1da to revolutionize the way we discover and stream music. Boi-1da sourced artists for the program, and Doni Nahmias, NAHMIAS founder and fashion designer, promoted them through the creation of a four-piece capsule collection.
The gender-neutral apparel consists of a hat, T-shirt, hoodie and jacket, all featuring a design with embedded QR technology – serving as an innovative music distribution model. Genderless fashion has been growing in popularity, and these designs feature Bacardi-inspired Caribbean flair with West Coast influences.
So, Bacardi paired up with high-end streetwear designer NAHMIAS and Grammy-winning producer Boi-1da to revolutionize the way we discover and stream music. Boi-1da sourced artists for the program, and Doni Nahmias, NAHMIAS founder and fashion designer, promoted them through the creation of a four-piece capsule collection.
The gender-neutral apparel consists of a hat, T-shirt, hoodie and jacket, all featuring a design with embedded QR technology – serving as an innovative music distribution model. Genderless fashion has been growing in popularity, and these designs feature Bacardi-inspired Caribbean flair with West Coast influences. (More on Advertising Specialty Institute)
Why Fashion Still Loves NFTs
In the wake of a market downturn, the industry is rethinking its strategy with projects focused on building community rather than flashy appeal.
By the time Warren Lotas’ first store opened its doors in Los Angeles on a recent Saturday morning, hundreds of people had already queued up outside. Some had started camping out the night before, eager to get early access to a streetwear brand known for its namesake designer’s distinctive heavy metal-inspired, hand-painted illustrations and high-quality cotton and denim construction.
But one particular group of fans was able to skip the line all day, not because they were celebrities or influencers, but because they owned one of 4,000 non-fungible tokens (aka NFTs) Lotas and his team released at the end of 2021 under the name The Wild Bunch. The hand-drawn skeletons, loosely modeled after the types of characters found in Spaghetti Westerns, depict “federally wanted individuals” outfitted with cowboy hats, camo jackets, and neon sunglasses.
Owners of the NFTs received another perk: exclusive access to the second floor of the store. There, the brand created a hangout space dubbed Greeley’s Saloon, with sofas and a pool table. “It was great to put some faces to names on discord,” tweeted one Wild Bunch member after visiting the opening and picking up five shirts from the brand, referring to the messaging platform where crypto communities congregate online.
The store space is one of a number of rewards the Warren Lotas team is working to offer its passionate NFT community. Last week, it launched a debut collection of apparel and accessories, including T-shirts and varsity jackets, only available for the Wild Bunch community to buy.
“NFTs, in this case, are like a membership card—it’s super sick to be part of that club,” said Warren Lotas’ chief operating officer, who goes by the name Sto. He estimated about 200 of The Wild Bunch NFT holders attended the store’s opening, with some traveling from as far as Boston, London, and Tokyo.
“The hype that surrounds [streetwear] drops is the same hype that surrounds NFT drops,” he added.
Sto revealed that The Wild Bunch community has grown “like wildfire” since last year’s “mint,” a term used to describe the moment when NFTs are created on a blockchain and become available to buy. “We just want to keep delivering and giving them stuff that they will know they love,” he said.
Warren Lotas’ approach is an example of a new way forward for the intersection of fashion and NFTs, prioritizing community building over splashy headlines about sky-high sale prices. Despite being a latecomer to the first digital revolution, fashion—and, in particular, luxury—embraced the metaverse as it gained more attention in recent years. Luxury houses have partnered with digital artists, gaming platforms, and crypto firms. For many, the goal is to be seen as part of a culture that is not yet mainstream, but is at the center of widespread fascination and speculation. (Read More on ELLE)
Sustainability
  • Why The Circular Economy Is The Perfect Fit For The Fashion Industry: According to the European Commission the average European throws away 11 kg of textiles every year. Around the world, a truckload of textiles is landfilled or incinerated every single second. The excessive consumption associated with the throwaway culture and disposal nature of fashion, remains problematic. Overproduction, overstocks and overproduction leads to more fashion waste, resulting in severe environmental problems. Obviously, the urgent need to take responsibility falls upon fashion brands, retailers, their business partners and customers. New proposals in Europe signal a shift for fashion. For example, there’s now clearer information and a digital product passport based on mandatory information requirements on circularity. New design requirements are available for fashion under the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. What’s more: Looking into fashion waste reduction, plastic-free oceans, and the crackdown on greenwashing. (Forbes)
  • Fashion industry risks falling short of green goals, Business of Fashion report says: The 30 largest listed fashion firms must do more to hit Paris climate accord targets and U.N. sustainable development goals, although some are improving their social and environmental credentials, The Business of Fashion said in a report on Tuesday. Fashion brands face increasing pressure from consumers, particularly younger ones, and governments to show they are doing better on environmental issues. “You’ve got some front runners making small steps of progress but fundamentally the big picture is that the industry is wildly underperforming,” Sarah Kent, chief sustainability correspondent for the trade industry publication The Business of Fashion told Reuters. The Business of Fashion Sustainability Index 2022, in its second report, analysed publicly-disclosed information on environmental targets and policies, including workers rights, in three categories - luxury, sportswear and high street fashion. (Reuters)
  • Fashion industry needs to pick up pace on climate goals, says report: The 30 largest listed fashion firms must do more to hit Paris climate accord targets and UN sustainable development goals, although some are improving their social and environmental credentials, The Business of Fashion said in a report on Tuesday. Fashion brands face increasing pressure from consumers, particularly younger ones, and governments to show they are doing better on environmental issues. “You’ve got some front runners making small steps of progress but fundamentally the big picture is that the industry is wildly underperforming,” Sarah Kent, chief sustainability correspondent for the trade industry publication The Business of Fashion told Reuters. The Business of Fashion Sustainability Index 2022, in its second report, analyzed publicly disclosed information on environmental targets and policies, including workers’ rights, in three categories —  luxury, sportswear, and high street fashion. Puma was ranked highest, scoring 49 points out of 100, followed Kering, last year’s leader, Levi Strauss, H&M Group, and Burberry. Puma welcomed the recognition but Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden said “much remains to be done.” Kering’s chief sustainability officer, Marie-Claire Daveu, said her company was “fully aware of the challenges ahead.” Levi Strauss, H&M. and Burberry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (BusinessWorld)
  • The fashion industry boosts its use of sustainable materials, but greenwashing remains: The trend: Fashion brands are using more sustainable materials than ever before, per a report by Textile Exchange. But a crackdown on greenwashing could force companies to make more substantive changes to avoid punitive action and keep consumers happy. A closer look: Half of all fibers used by fashion brands in 2020 were “preferred materials,” which have a more sustainable environmental and social impact than standard fibers, per Textile Exchange. But the majority of preferred materials that brands use either come from non-textile waste (like plastic bottles) or are resource-intensive to cultivate (like cotton and wool). Retailers like H&M and adidas have made much of their use of materials like recycled polyester, which in 2020 accounted for roughly one-third of all polyester used. But these recycling initiatives don’t do much to lessen fashion’s environmental footprint: In 2020, only 6.5% of recycled fibers were sourced from textile waste. Greenwashing persists: Fashion brands are better at marketing environmental initiatives than implementing them. For example, the recasting of plastic leather as “vegan leather” has enabled some retailers to present their wares as environmentally friendly—despite the fact that the material is made from fossil fuels. Many retailers rely on the Higg Index, a highly influential ratings system that measures materials’ sustainability. But critics say the index contributes to greenwashing by representing synthetic materials as more sustainable than natural fibers. (Emarketer)
Culture
  • How to be inclusive of non-binary people: Christopher El Badaoui and Araxie Boyadjian are the cofounders of LVNDR, a healthtech platform developing inclusive sexual health solutions for the LGBTQ+ community. In their view, relying on the right resources and experts — and ensuring managers are wised up and prepared to educate their teams — is crucial for ensuring non-binary people ( those who identify outside of the traditional gender binary) feel welcomed at work. Here are just some of their tips. Make sure non-binary individuals are heard If new employees have already identified as non-binary before joining your team, chances are they will have some concerns. Common ones might include: how do I come out to my team in terms of my gender and what pronouns I use? Do I correct my colleagues when they misgender me? Is it ok for me to speak up in meetings that involve people external to the company and correct them? Creating a space safe for non-binary people means really understanding what matters to that specific individual — as what might be important for one non-binary person may not apply to another person. As a manager, have a one-to-one chat with your new employee before they join and ask how you can best support them. If you are employing a non-binary person for the first time, ask them whether they’d like to address themselves to the team (some individuals are happy to share information and educate people, as it’s a wonderful feeling to know others are open to learn) or whether they would like you to introduce them before they meet everyone. Most importantly, make it clear that you will always have an open door for them to discuss their needs or concerns.(Sifted)
  • Jennifer Lopez ‘proud’ of her gender neutral child Emme: Jennifer Lopez feels proud of her child Emme Maribel Muñiz after they started going by gender neutral pronouns. An insider spilled to Heat Magazine as per The Mirror that JLo always encouraged both her kids to follow whatever their heart desires. “Jen is so proud of Emme and the beautiful young person they’ve turned out to be,” the source spilled to the outlet. “She’s always encouraged Emme and Max to follow whatever path they feel is best, and she’s hoping it sets an example to other parents,” the statement added. "Emme is very sweet, thoughtful kid - and so talented, it’s looking like they will go into showbiz at some point, whether it’s singing, acting or dancing,” the insider concluded. The actor – singer introduced her 14-year-old child using gender neutral pronouns for the first time at her recent concert at Dodgers Stadium. Lopez said on stage, “The last time we performed together was in a big stadium like this and I ask them to sing with me all the time, and they won’t. So this is a very special occasion.” "They are very, very busy, booked and pricey. They cost me when they come out. But they’re worth every single penny because they’re my favourite duet partner of all time,” she added. “So if you will indulge me.”(Geo.tv)
GenZ
  • Gen Z is influencing the abortion debate — from TikTok: Young people have never known life without Roe v. Wade. Until now. After the Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark ruling that protected the right to an abortion, many of them have a lot to say about it. Defined as those born after 1996, members of Generation Z have lived through unprecedented events — including the Sept. 11 attacks and the coronavirus pandemic. In recent years, issues such as climate change, gun control and racial justice have mobilized them as young voters. And social media is playing a central role: They are launching coordinated action from their phones. Now they’ve turned their focus to abortion as states regain the power to determine its legality. (So far, roughly half of them are poised to ban or drastically restrict access.) To understand how younger Americans are engaging in this issue, The Washington Post explored how two influencers on opposing ends of the debate — Olivia Julianna and Savannah Craven— have risen as youth activists on TikTok, where Gen Z makes up more than 60 percent of users. Their stories show how Gen Z is harnessing political power: by creating bite-size videos on the nation’s fastest-growing social media platform. (The Washington Post)
News from Around the World
  • Tennis Fans Criticise Wimbledon After Gender Neutral Toilets Are Installed (UK): A portion of tennis fans have kicked up a fuss after it was revealed that Wimbledon officials had installed gender neutral toilets at the prestigious tennis competition. The All England Lawn Tennis club is renowned for its age-old traditions, but it seems its latest progressive move has angered some. According to reports, the gender neutral bathrooms were installed during the Covid-19 pandemic but have only been seen in the flesh just now as the tournament kicks off once again. But instead of praising Wimbledon chiefs for driving inclusivity, people have taken to social media to criticise the decision. One person said: “Wimbledon is about tradition, it doesn’t have to follow every fad.” While one bloke tweeted: “Gender neutral toilets to have a Wimbledon debut. Game, set and match to the woke.” Another added: “I have no words!” It’s understood single-sex restrooms will still be available to those attending Wimbledon. The introduction of gender neutral toilets comes not long after tournament officials removed the ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ titles on the women’s honours board – aligning with the male players. (SportBible)
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Generation Genderless
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