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Generation Genderless - Issue #16

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
People are paying more for clothes even as retailers like Walmart and Gap mark down prices to cut inventory
Excess inventory has racked up in many retailers’ warehouses and stores. But shoppers are still paying more as they refresh the closet.
Apparel prices rose 0.8% in June compared to May, and 5.2% year over year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index Wednesday. Overall, the inflation gauge, which includes everyday items such as food and gas, rose a higher-than-expected 9.1% from a year earlier.
Apparel trends are another mixed metric as economists and industry-watchers try to gauge the strength of the consumer and U.S. economy. In recent weeks, many prominent companies and investors have warned of a recession. Retailers, including TargetGap and Walmart, announced plans for more markdowns to get rid of unwanted merchandise. The moves were expected to be deflationary.
Yet apparel sales and prices — at least so far — are topping last year’s levels. The labor market remains robust, too: The jobs report for June defied recession fears, as the unemployment rate remain unchanged and payrolls beat expectations.
“It’s all about experience,” said Kristen Classi-Zummo, an industry analyst who covers fashion apparel for The NPD Group. “A return to getting back out is really what’s driving the apparel growth. This experiential re-emergence that we still didn’t see fully last year.”
Some retailers have reported that, too. Levi Strauss & Co.’s revenue grew 15% year over year for the quarter ending May 29. Yet its value brands, which drive a small amount of the company’s overall sales and are sold by Walmart, Target and Amazon, saw mid-single-digit declines from a year ago, CEO Chip Bergh said.
Walmart saw a split in its apparel category, too. It aggressively marked down some of its clothing in the fiscal first quarter, as shoppers pulled back on discretionary merchandise. Yet the company’s merchandising chief, Charles Redfield, told CNBC in early June that the big-box chain could not keep up with demand for its more fashion-forward and higher price point brands, such as sundresses and tops from Scoop. (Read more on CNBC)
Weekend Briefing: How the fashion industry is prepping for the worst
Last week, Glossy wrapped up a series of stories on the growing threat of a recession. Elsewhere, competition among fashion brands in China is growing, Hermès opens its first New York City store outside of Manhattan, Balenciaga’s couture made headlines, and ABG dropped a lawsuit against one of its own tech partners. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Glossy Podcast to hear the Week in Review episodes with Glossy’s editor-in-chief Jill Manoff and myself, as well as Jill’s conversations with industry insiders every Wednesday. –Danny Parisi, sr. fashion reporter
Riding out a recession
Over the last two weeks, we’ve run a series of stories looking at how fashion and beauty companies will be impacted by an oncoming recession. 
Brands are scaling back how much inventory they’re buying to ensure they’re not stuck sitting on excess inventory like they were at the beginning of the pandemic. But that inclination is complicated by the fact that orders are taking longer due to supply chain delays, leaving brands with tough decisions to make on how much to order and when.
Shipping costs are becoming exorbitant, leading brands to look for manufacturing partners closer to home. Real estate prices and the associated costs of running a store keep going up, pushing brands to rethink their store strategies. And a tight capital market means investors only want to give money to safe bets and proven business models, leaving smaller or more experimental brands with a harder time getting funds.
Check out our new Recession section on the Glossy homepage to see our recent stories.
(Read More on Glossy.co)
GENDERLESS BRAND PAYS HOMAGE TO HERITAGE DENIM
A new denim brand builds on the industry experiences of two long-time collaborators and denim heads.
Tilmann Wröbel, founder of the consultancy Monsieur-T and 2019 Rivet 50 honoree, and Themis Goudroubis, owner of the Greek garment manufacturing firm LDM Company, are bringing heritage-inspired, gender-free denim to the market with Handz.
Centered on selvedge fabrics and handcrafted finishes, Handz offers a modern take on traditional denim. A true blue-blood collection, the debut line spans jeans made with indigo overdyed Japanese selvedge, double indigo seersucker, low-tension 14-ounce selvedge, cotton/linen herringbone dyed with pure indigo and more. Fits are fluid and simple with a focus on slim, straight and wide-leg silhouettes.
The simple silhouettes, Wröbel added, “highlight the beauty and diversity of indigo pigments.”
Breaking the rules of how traditional denim brands are positioned in the market was part of the duo’s motivation to launch Handz. Wröbel and Goudroubis have worked together on various denim projects for clients. “Then we noticed after a few years that we actually work really well together,” Wröbel said about the decision to join forces.
Now co-owners and co-founders of Handz, Goudroubis manages production, delivery and logistics, while Wröbel oversees Handz’s design, product, marketing and sales in addition to maintaining his consulting business. Their long-term vision for the brand is to stay relevant through storytelling and offer quality not only in the final product but also in fit and fabrics.
This attention to quality, Wröbel said, is reflected in the collection’s price tag. Jeans retail at 250-350 euros, or approximately $260-$360. The company is working with agents in France and Germany for brick-and-mortar distribution. The U.K. and South Asia are also on deck.
“We believe in the traditional distribution and in the power of retail and people in retail who know how to explain proper denim,” Wröbel said. (Read More on Sourcing Journal)
The It-Girl-Approved Designer Behind The Genderless Corset Trend
Corsets were a signature for Dion Lee long before the Bridgerton-induced hype. The Australian designer’s USP is comfort: he makes the formidable prospect of squeezing into a bustier appealing, and his corsets are “designed for bodies rather than gender profiles”, as he tells Vogue.
Lee formerly worked within the parameters of womenswear, but made a natural shift to unisex several seasons ago. Customers flock for his rave-ready cargo trousers and don’t-mess-with-me leather jackets, but it’s his corsets that get fashion fiends the most excited.
Fascinated by construction and deconstruction in a Margiela kind of way, Lee forged the basic design of a tank top, a typically “masculine” staple, with the structural boning of a corset, a “feminine” garment, offering a hybrid piece that’s surprisingly wearable. “The combination of those [masculine and feminine] languages was something that really did open up how genderless a corset could be,” he says. “Taking the formality and construction of a corset but then giving it the utility and daily wearability of a tank top is something people really responded to.”
And while Lee’s corsets are designed to sculpt the body – “I love the internal framework that you don’t even necessarily see” – they’re made to be seen rather than hidden away, whether paired with low-slung pants or worn with a naked dress underneath (consult the autumn/winter 2022 collection for inspo). His biggest surprise? “How the male customer has approached the silhouette,” he muses. “The corset has really encouraged a customer to experiment with something that really challenges the perception of menswear right now.” (Vogue)
How will overturning abortion rights affect the apparel sector?
On Friday 24 June, the US Supreme Court overturned its 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision which means millions of US women will lose the constitutional right to have an abortion and apparel sector consultant Bob Antoshak believes it will have a ripple effect on the entire apparel sector.
Antoshak explains the announcement marks a divisive turning point in American history, and leaves open the possibility of future weakening of rights, especially for marginalised groups such as women, people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community and interracial couples.
He says: “The ruling striking down the original decision on Roe v. Wade has taken a highly charged issue and exposed it to plutonium, super-charging an already intense cultural battle. Moreover, the decision underscores the deepening cultural divide in the United States.”
Antoshak is quick to highlight this divide does not operate in a vacuum, as this news on abortion rights directly affects the apparel and fashion sector.
He says: “From designers in New York to women working on sewing machines in Bangladesh. Our industry, perhaps the world’s largest, comprises many creative and hardworking women and men of all colours and backgrounds. The Supreme Court ruling compels our industry to further support the rights of people worldwide.”
Dr Sheng Lu, associate professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware adds studies show consumers today, especially younger consumers increasingly expect fashion brands to incorporate social causes into their businesses.
He says: “In other words, besides high-quality goods and services, consumers want to link their brand loyalty with companies’ demonstrated commitment and positive impacts on the planet, society, and the community. This explains why it has become common for fashion companies to take a public stand on social and political issues.”
The US Fashion Industry Association’s President Julia Hughes tells Just Style exclusively: “Even though the leaked draft document meant everyone had an idea of what the ruling would say, most companies are still looking at the impact, especially on their workforce.” (Read More on Just Style)
Fashion Tech
How a digital project hopes to demystify gender identities
The last few years have seen a seemingly small, but important, step in the discourse on self-determination and self-expression, at least among the online and anglophone population. People have begun adding preferred pronouns to their social media profiles and email signatures—like he/him, she/her, they/them, ze/zir—conveying gently but firmly that you cannot assume gender or sexuality based on given names or physical features.
This openness is reflected among Gen Z and millennial peer groups, even in the data that Tinder, the dating app, shares. The platform has now collaborated with the Gaysi Family, the Mumbai-based e-zine for queer desis, on Let’s Talk Gender, a microsite with a glossary of gender terms such as trans, agender, pangender, gender fluid, gender binary and gender variant, as well as hijra, kothi and thirunambi. The digital initiative was launched at the end of Pride Month in June.
“A lot of people, especially Gen Z and millennial people, are very actively exploring and expressing their gender through online interactions, whether on social media or on dating apps,” says Tejaswi Subramanian, one of the Gaysi Family editors involved with the project. “That’s where people are meeting, whether they are dating them, becoming friends, or forming some sort of community. These relationships become more complex (when) you have to engage with a person in a complex way, outside of the (heteronormative) binary.”(Read More on Lifestyle Lounge)
Why Digital Fashion Matters
“We’re in the midst of a technological revolution. We all know it, we talk about it, but we have to live it. The most difficult step is just to go for it.” — Helmut Lang, on being the first designer to unveil a collection on the Internet (1998)
TL;DR: We at TCG Crypto are thrilled to be backing what we believe are two of the most innovative companies in digital fashion, DRAUP and Tribute Brand. We share our excitement for the space and outline our thesis on where we believe digital fashion is headed in the piece below.
What was your first experience buying digital clothing online? My memories from my first few years on the Internet are blurred across Webkinz outlet shopping, RuneScape party hats, and Club Penguin monthly catalogs. A few years later, as I downloaded Snapchat for the first time, I remember trying on dozens of outfits for my Bitmoji to wear. And even more recently, I’ve swiped across Instagram filters to see which pair of AR sunglasses would suit me best (so far, I’ve settled on this pair of Nouns glasses).
I commonly hear people say that digital fashion is the future — the “next big thing” in consumer Internet. I’d argue it’s already here, and as people continue to live and display more of their lives online, I believe the market for digital fashion will only get bigger. (Read More on Medium.com)
The role of technology in the fashion industry
Fashion technology is witnessing unprecedented growth at a faster pace than ever. From the inception of sewing machines to temperature-regulating fabrics to the latest incredible concept of metaverse stores, fashion has come a long way.
As per the CB Insights’ Industry Analyst Consensus, the fashion segment has emerged one of the largest industries in the entire world with a total worth to cross more than $3T by the end of this decade.
Technology has forayed into every aspect of fashion right from automation to customization and the process of how the orders are manufactured, designed, distributed, and marketed. Soon the sights of robots cutting and sewing fabrics, AI algorithms predicting style trends and even outfits that can be tried in virtual reality will be a common phenomenon.
However, a lot will depend on how fashion brands seize the opportunity offered by evolving technological trends in fashion to gain a competitive edge in the businesses. Brands that will adapt to new technological trends in fashion will be able to explore more business models and revenue streams. This will fuel the trend of partnering with technology providers, and even building their fashion-focused tech.
Amidst this, technology will play a pivotal role in recognizing sustainability impact in the fashion value chain which has been long overdue. Here let’s dive deeper into the areas where technology is expected to play a prominent role in the fashion industry. (Read More on PC Tablet.com)
Sustainability
  • Why Wasted Fashion: The Need For Eco Reinvention In The Fashion Industry: In the bygone days, the craving to make maximum clothing was not so much among the people, and they used to have few suits for special occasions. At that time, people would visit their friends or public places without worrying much about repeating the same clothes several times. Let’s say if vulkan bet was a land-based playing casino, the people would gather there with their friends for some good times and winnings without worrying too much about what they should spend on their clothes. On the contrary, nowadays, every person owns many clothes throughout their lifetime, the bill of which can be calculated easily. Still, the cost it owes to the environment is not being considered, which might be one of the significant causes of pollution. After tech and automobiles, garment manufacturing is one of the largest industries in the world. (Music Essentials)
  • 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)
  • US fashion industry expects sourcing volume to grow in 2022: Survey - Fibre2Fashion: About 90 per cent of respondents belonging to the fashion industry expect their sourcing value or volume to grow in 2022, according to a recent survey. Close to 77 per cent feel at least somewhat optimistic about the next 5 years, despite the current short-term challenges, and nearly all respondents—97 per cent—plan to increase hiring over the next 5 years.Increasing sourcing and production costs remain a top concern for the US fashion industry, according to United States Fashion Industry Association’s (USFIA) ninth annual Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study, a survey of executives from over 30 leading fashion brands, retailers, importers and wholesalers. For the first time in the nine-year history of the Benchmarking Study, 100 per cent of respondents expect their sourcing costs to increase in 2022. US fashion companies continue to adopt a more diverse sourcing base, to handle supply chain disruptions and growing sourcing risks. Reducing ‘China exposure’ is one crucial driver of US fashion companies’ sourcing diversification strategy. One-third of respondents report sourcing less than 10 per cent of their apparel products from China this year. In addition, a new record of 50 per cent of respondents source more from Vietnam than China in 2022. (Fibre2Fashion)
  • How the fashion industry is using green investment - Times of India: Nowadays, most fashion brands are stepping forward to incorporate sustainable clothing and they are doing this by giving outfits a stylish twist based on ongoing fashion trends. For instance, most fast-fashion retailers are looking at ways to cut down their carbon footprints and are working towards a sustainable future. The manufacturing process at large is witnessing a transformation. Fashion retailers and apparel manufacturers are opting for nature-based fabrics. Chemical usage in processing and dyeing fabrics has been reduced considerably. Fabrics that are made with closed-loop processes help in conservation and ensure optimum use of resources. Industries are incorporating modern technology that enables them to reduce water consumption. For instance, fabrics sourced from wood pulp are a great way to maintain green measures. Fibres sourced from certified sustainable forests help enhance the fluidity and softness of the fabric. These ethically sourced fabrics save landfills 6-7 times more than cotton and consume 3-4 times lesser water. (Time of India)
  • Fashion’s Latest Sustainability Report Claims To Have The Answers—But Do They Add Up?: There is a saying that when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. “Existing [textile] recycling technologies could drive 80% circularity in the fashion industry by 2025,” states the Scaling Circularity report by the Global Fashion Agenda in partnership with McKinsey and Company. However, the Textile Exchange simultaneously reports that less than 0.5% of global fibers were from recycled textiles in 2020. 80% sure seems like a stretch. Skepticism and critical thinking should be leveled at any report claiming to define the best way to reduce the industry’s environmental impacts; particularly where the authors have a vested interest in the findings. The recent Pentatonic and Eileen Fisher Foundation Hey, Fashion! report and platform quotes the aforementioned “80% circularity” statistic and declares circularity as the main solution to fashion’s environmental problems. The report was published a couple of weeks ago and has been covered by at least 35 media outlets including Vogue Business, Forbes and WWD. The report’s headline is: “Fashion’s waste crisis and how to solve it”, setting the bar high regarding research and conclusions for action.(Forbes)
Beauty
  • Idris and Sabrina Elba introduce S'able Labs, a ‘genderless’ skincare line - Yahoo News: Power couple Idris and Sabrina Elba have gone into business together, launching their luxury, gender-inclusive skincare line on July 12. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Idris and Sabrina Elba were among the first famous faces to speak out about the coronavirus, which they weathered together. They were also among those looking for new projects to keep busy and uplift others during the many months of lockdown—and one of those projects is coming to fruition. After many talks, the power couple decided to launch their own skincare line, S’able Labs, which will debut on July 12. Fittingly, S’able is “Elbas” spelled backwards and is reportedly designed to be a genderless skincare line focused on overall wellness for people of “all ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds.” (Yahoo)
Culture
  • Why are we still using genders in advertising?: It’s 2022, and brands are still failing to address the whole spectrum of gender identities in their market research, campaigns and products. This can have devastating consequences for both the ignored demographics and the brand, explains Casey Hobgood, associate strategy director at We Are Social US. Hobgood lays out four strategies marketers can take to do better in the future. Lately, it seems that the universal goal for brands is to be culturally relevant. Marketing teams are briefed to hyper-analyze content and brainstorm for how to make a brand resonate with their consumers. However, the root of the issue is continuously overlooked: how can you make a brand culturally relevant when its audience segments don’t accurately reflect the culture we live in? The truth is that advertising is not evolving as quickly as people’s mindsets are. This is seen most drastically when brands continue to define audiences by only ‘male’ and ‘female.’ It sounds like an easy fix: “Just make content gender neutral.” However, the problem starts in the research phase. When people are filling out surveys or forms, they are usually faced with the choices of ‘Male’ or ‘Female,’ and in some cases ‘Other.’ To people who identify as non-binary or another definition outside of society’s limiting parameters, they are faced with yet another instance of feeling uncomfortable and isolated.(The Drum)
  • TSA PreCheck gets a gender-neutral option: TSA PreCheck has become more gender-inclusive. The Transportation Security Administration announced its popular trusted traveler program now allows travelers to select an “X” gender marker, providing an option for the first time for travelers who don’t identify as either male or female. Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free biweekly Aviation newsletter. The announcement completes a technology upgrade that was first announced in April. TSA PreCheck members who would like to use the “X” gender marker can call the TSA’s contact center at 855-347-8371 on weekdays, between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. EDT. The TSA does not require any supporting documentation to make the change. “TSA remains committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and dignity,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “This new TSA PreCheck enrollment feature reaffirms our commitment to equality and inclusion for all people, including the LGBTQI+ community.” Earlier in April, the TSA noted some other enhancements for the transgender community.nThe agency is updating its Advanced Imaging Technology units — the large, walk-in scanners seen at checkpoints — to no longer rely on a gender-based screening system. It also promises less-invasive pat-downs in sensitive areas for travelers who do trigger the AIT machines. “Over the coming months, TSA will move swiftly to implement more secure and efficient screening processes that are gender-neutral, as well as technological updates that will enhance security and make TSA PreCheck enrollment more inclusive,” Pekoske said in an earlier statement. “These combined efforts will greatly enhance airport security and screening procedures for all.”(The Points Guy)
News from Around the World
  • Secondary school brings in new gender neutral dress code allowing boys to wear skirts (UK): A Norfolk secondary school has adopted a new gender neutral dress code allowing boys and girls the options of trousers or skirts - while sticking to its ban on shorts. The new policy is to be introduced at Wymondham High Academy in September following a consultation with parents. Parents have previously called for a relaxation of the uniform rules to allow pupils to wear shorts instead on hot days during the summer. The school agreed to review its uniform rules, and is now allowing boys and girls to wear either trousers or skirts in the school’s existing style. Jonathan Rockey, the headteacher of the 1,705-pupil school, defended the new policy as ‘something we are very proud of’ and insisted it flowed from a consultation with pupils’ families. One parent said: ‘A skirt is an item of clothing traditionally associated with girls so although it is absolutely fine for a boy to wear a skirt, many boys and girls might feel uncomfortable about that and would choose to wear shorts.’ Another parent said: ‘I don’t have any issues with boys wearing skirts. 'That isn’t the problem here. I’m sure many girls would also like the opportunity to wear shorts instead of trousers in hotter months.’ (Daily Mail)
  • Delhi-based designers are making fashion gender neutral hit (India): The subconscious move one makes when they walk into a store or log on to an e-commerce site to shop for clothing, is to usually make their way to the section where one can find options for their gender. Clothing has, mostly, been restricted by gender norms. Sometimes, the lines do blur; when it comes to traditional wear—the kilt worn by Scottish men or the Indian kurta-pyjama. In an age when gender-neutral fashion is somewhat of a marketing gimmick, we speak to two designers who have embraced this ideology from the inception of their brand. Gender no bar: South Delhi-based Anvita Sharma (31) recounts how, while growing up, she hardly ever overheard or engaged in conversations beyond the gender binary. It was after she went to fashion school at Istituto Marangoni—Milan for her bachelor’s degree and Paris for her master’s—that she became aware of thought processes unlike the ones common on home ground. “I realised we do not need categorisation in clothes,” Anvita shares. Her idea was simple: fashion was a medium for her to make a change, and this was the opportunity. “Not everyone can be social activist, and everyone does things differently. I thought my clothes can be more than just about the physical article of clothing. That is how Two Point Two started,” adds Anvita.
  • In Argentina, One of the World’s First Bans on Gender-Neutral Language: BUENOS AIRES — Instead of “amigos,” the Spanish word for “friends,” some Spanish speakers use “amigues.” In place of “todos,” or “all,” some write “todxs.” And some signs that would say “bienvenidos,” or “welcome,” now say “bienvenid@s.” The changes, which had been informally adopted by teachers in schools across Buenos Aires, were a deliberate effort to include people who don’t identify as male or female in a language where many words are categorized as either masculine or feminine. Similar gender-neutral language is being increasingly introduced across Latin America, as well as in other languages, including English and French, by supporters who say it helps create a more inclusive society. But to some Spanish speakers, including many academics and politicians, the changes degrade a language spoken by a half-billion people around the world. In Argentina, the tension has shifted from a war of public opinion to a battle over policy. The city government in Buenos Aires, the nation’s capital, last month banned teachers from using any gender-neutral words during class and in communications with parents. The city’s education minister said such language violated the rules of Spanish and stymied students’ reading comprehension. (NY Times)
  • Chilean court ruling grants right to non-binary ID: A ruling by Chile’s Judiciary where a Law School team represented the plaintiffs has recognized -based on the examples of Colombia, Argentina, and Canada- the right of non-binary gender people of legal age to change their birth certificate and mark it with an “X” instead of “feminine” or “masculine,” it was reported in Santiago. The ruling draws on the comparative experience in Colombia, Argentina, and Canada among 20 other countries where non-binary persons are recognized and the use of the “X” marker is internationally recognized. The sentence includes the arguments raised by Professor Lorena Lorca, who has since 2009 represented transgender people in need of a change to their birth certificate in terms of name and sex. More than 370 cases have been successfully concluded. Last week’s ruling was the first issued in Chile in the case of a person of legal age who is recognized as a non-binary person, admitting that his legal name is detrimental and that the registered sex does not correspond to the person’s gender identity and must be rectified. (Merco Press)
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