Brands Embrace Inclusivity Through Gender Neutral Product Lines
Even with Pride month coming to a close last month, the pressure on brands to create more LGBTQIA+ inclusive products year-round continues to grow
. With 1.2 million
Americans identifying as non-binary and nearly a third
of individuals saying they have struggled when making a purchase because products are marketed toward only one gender, companies must rethink how products and services can be more inclusive to individuals across the gender identity
spectrum as well. Today, we examine three brands that have embraced this need and created space for long-term gender-fluid lines.
- Abercrombie & Fitch* collaborated with The Trevor Project to expand its “everybody collection” from kids to adults. To be inclusive of all aspects of the LGBTQIA+ community, the two organizations worked together on everything from prints to fits, including designing with the Progress Flag. The brand is going beyond June Pride celebrations by making the line available throughout the year and incorporating a year-long roundup campaign, followed by an initial $200,000 donation to The Trevor Project.
- Designer jewelry maker, Blue Nile, teamed up with fashion designer, Zac Posen, to create a collection of gender-neutral engagement rings. The collection includes 12 new rings that vary in size, cut, metal and style to fit everyone’s needs. Katie Zimmerman, Blue Nile’s chief merchandising officer, explained the inspiration for the line was due to the brand “seeing a growing demand for inclusive jewelry pieces that symbolize love and commitment in all forms.” Posen expressed his excitement for the collaboration and added that “the traditional idea of marriage is evolving, and the wedding category is finally starting to reflect that.”
- Pacsun launched its first-ever line of gender-neutral clothing line for kids ages 4-14. The kids label design does not include any female or male styles, making it entirely without gender. Later this year, the fashion retailer will also be committing to a full, adult and kid, gender-fluid brand called Colour Range – a collection that is also sustainable.
Our recent research
found that 64 percent
of Americans believe that companies should play an active role in building a more inclusive society for people of all gender identities – with another half
believing that gender stereotypes exist partially because of the way companies have represented gender identity in marketing and advertising. What these examples and our research show is that brands must continue to meet the increased call for a gender-fluid approach to their products and marketing. (NewsDirect.com
(Opinion) Gender-Free Fashion Needs to Start in the Kids’ Department
A decade ago, I was a fashion-loving 20-something expecting my first child, a daughter. In all the uncertainty and nervousness I felt about parenthood, the one thing I felt totally prepared for was outfitting that baby. Shopping for kids is fun — those cute, teeny-sized clothes. Of course, if it had been that simple, this wouldn’t be a story, would it?
Where my aesthetic leaned more punk, I was met with frilly, princessy everything; an extremely gendered style selection starting from a baby’s first days. It wasn’t until my eldest turned one that I experienced the retail joy I had hungered for, on a shopping trip to babyGap. There was a toddler range emblazoned with images of an adorable bulldog wearing a fedora, who happened to look just like my other baby, a bulldog puppy. The color palette of muted gray and navy was cool and understated, and I bought everything I could afford — pieces that have since been adored by all four of my girls throughout the past decade. The catch? It was all from the “boys’” section.
At a time when fashion (and everything else) is making strides toward inclusivity, acceptance, and a richness of expression to match the many ways humans express their identities, this progress is rare to find in the kids’ section. And that’s just silly.
Queer-owned, size-inclusive brands are collaborating with major retailers to expand the meaning of inclusive and accessible fashion
— including making products specifically for non-binary and gender-nonconforming people
. Meanwhile, the pandemic has seen us all get a bit more experimental with our style: We’ve been witches, prairie-dwellers and dyed our hair pink, blue and everything in between — and that was just to hang out at home. Vogue
put a man in a gown on its cover! Yet kids’ clothes look much the same as they did when I first went shopping for them a decade ago.
It’s easy to brush off my frustrations. These are just clothes
, after all, and as a society, we love to deride fashion as frivolous and superficial. (The number of times some readers have told this very publication to ‘stop getting so political’ when we dare wade into the style
of people in power
is borderline ridiculous.)
But kids’ clothing is about more than just garments: Clothes are instrumental in helping children form their identities and express themselves. Consider the popularity and power of playing dress-up, which not only encourages creativity and communication, but can improve productivity and perseverance — one study
dubbed this phenomenon “the Batman effect.”
There’s financial significance, too: A new report forecasts the global childrenswear market will reach $325.9 billion by the year 2027
. All that money, and kids are still being made to choose pink or blue? Batman or Elsa? Come on.
Research into the consequences of living in a system that equates femininity with skirts or masculinity with a specific color makes for grim reading. According to Emily Kane, PhD, the chair of the department of sociology at Bates College and author of The Gender Trap: Parents and the Pitfalls of Raising Boys and Girls
, kids typically start to understand gender categories and identity by age 2 or 3 as a way of making sense of the world around them. Interestingly, it’s often through outside influences, like a stranger’s critical comment about a child not conforming to a gender stereotype, which will shape a child’s understanding of gender expectations. (Read More on InStyle