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Generation Genderless - Issue #5

Generation Genderless
Generation Genderless
Hi - my name is Kris Harrington, CEO and Creative Director of Kris Harring Apparel Group. We specialize in gender-inclusive fashion design 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
Meet Telfar Clemens, the designer behind Liberia’s iconic Olympic team outfits
If you didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of the Liberian Olympic team uniforms at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics which took place on July 23, please take a moment, after you read this article of course, to google ‘Liberia Olympic Team Uniform’.
Out with the boring, often dull, golfer-like Olympic uniforms we’re used to seeing, which quite frankly aren’t very flattering. Liberia already claimed gold with their designer attire which was designed by Liberian-American fashion designer Telfar Clemens.
Clemens, 36, is a fashion designer, DJ, and the founder of Telfar, which is a genderless fashion label based in Brooklyn in New York City.
According to fashion news website, Clemens recently visited Liberia for the first time in 30 years. A much younger Clemens and his family fled the country when a civil war broke out in 1990.
It was in his home country where he found his inspiration for his debut performance gear collection, and what better way to showcase it than at the biggest sporting event in the world.
Clemens is considered one of the rising talents on America’s fashion scene, with his in-demand collection of handbags, and the likes of celebrities such as Beyoncé and Zoë Krawits sporting a Telfar original.
Its official website says that Telfar is a unisex line started in 2005 by Telfar Clemens. And the company tagline, ‘It’s not for you — it’s for everyone,’ certainly says clearly that far from being designer clothing to be admired from a distance, everyone in fact deserves a Telfar original. (IOL News)
When Second Hand Becomes Vintage: Gen Z Has Made Thrifting A Big Business
When Eve Perez was in middle school, she remembers feeling embarrassed to shop at thrift stores. Surrounded by peers in name brands, Perez felt like there was a stigma associated with wearing used clothing.
Something shifted around five years ago, she recalls — right around the time the social networking platform Tumblr grew in popularity. She noticed a change in how people perceived buying and wearing used clothing. It became an edgy, countercultural thing to do.
Now, Perez, 21, makes upwards of $1000 each month by selling both handmade and second hand clothing on Depop, an online resale marketplace with a young user base.
“Thrifting has been normalized,” Perez said, 21. “Since so many people are doing it, it’s now seen as cooler. It’s seen as better than going to the mall. Younger people find it fun, like a game. A hunt for something unique.”
The increasing returns of that hunt has transformed thrifting into a viable, $28 billion industry that is expected to eclipse fast fashion by 2029, according to findings from ThredUp, an online consignment store. Second hand shopping is no longer just a local, community-driven hobby — it has wings. (Read More on NPR)
Environmental Impacts of Fashion Industry Increasingly Alarming
The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world. Freshwater and ocean pollution, the accumulation of textile waste, and the emission of greenhouse gases are just a few examples of the disastrous environmental impacts of the industry. All over the world, including Hungary, there is a pressing need for initiatives to mitigate these problems and render fashion more sustainable. 
The numbers are shocking when it comes to the damage that the fashion industry is causing. According to the UN, the industry is responsible for 20 percent of water pollution worldwide. The apparel and footwear industry account for over 8 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, and by 2030, the industry’s CO₂ emissions are projected to increase by more than 60 percent. Fast fashion: clothes as disposable items
The rise of fast fashion, which relies on mass production and low prices, has further aggravated the environmental impacts of the industry. Due to the high numbers of clothing collections that these apparel companies release each year, consumers increasingly see cheap clothing items as perishable goods that are ‘nearly disposable‘. People tend to buy clothes incessantly, throwing them away after having worn them only a couple times.
In recent years, the amount of clothes bought per person in Europe has increased by 40 percent. Some 30 percent of them are worn only once, and only 1 percent is recycled. Many forget that it took nearly 8,000 liters of water to make the jeans that they simply throw away, and 2,720 liters of water to make the cotton T-shirt that they once adored, but quickly got bored of.
Fashion needs to become more sustainable
The Hungarian stylist-journalist Eszter Mengyán is trying to fight fast fashion by raising awareness of the environmental impacts of the fashion industry, advocating for sustainability, and promoting second-hand solutions, along with Hungarian designers’ clothing. She shares her tips on her blog, and gives talks, while also being the editor of the website called Fenntartható (Sustainable fashion).
Hungarian President János Áder also raised issues around fashion and sustainability in his recent podcast episode that he recorded with Eszter Mengyán. They discussed the environmental damage that the industry is causing, drawing attention to the role of both individual consumers and governments in pushing the fashion industry to move towards sustainability. Mengyán and Áder highlighted that
the ‘water footprint’ of an average day’s clothing, including underwear, trousers, T-shirt, and shoes, is around 20,000 liters.
According to the sustainability-advocate stylist Mengyán, individuals can contribute to mitigating pollution with fewer washes and a sparing use of detergents. To successfully reduce pollution on a larger scale, there is a need to develop technologies to filter microplastics from the water in washing machines. (Hungary Today)
Fashion Tech
The Digitization Of The Fashion Industry And What It Means For Brands
Fashion Week went digital once again in 2021, and the uncertainty around the future of fashion shows still remains as brands try to understand how they can balance both their physical and digital brand presence in today’s ever-changing landscape. The new forms of content distribution, which are fully dependent on digital tools, leave many perplexed. Although I can’t deny that some brands adapted to the change quite successfully by coming up with new and exciting content, many are still faced with the challenge of making their virtual collections come to life without physical spaces and making them easily accessible to the press, buyers and end consumers.
Fashion Week’s facilitated the relationships brands were able to build with a wider audience. Twice a year, journalists and buyers from all over the world gather together in one place with the mutual goal of spreading the word about the latest collections and trends before they become available to the general public.
However, in recent months, brands were forced to digitize and reassess how they would foster those relationships. One of the main issues I heard brands express was maintaining exclusivity with industry insiders globally while being more accessible to a wider audience of professionals worldwide. To this day, many brands are still questioning how to amplify their collections across social platforms and media. They’re looking for ways to create a smooth visual flow when communicating with press and influencers and figuring out how to make the products feel “real” in a digital setting.
For any fashion brand, the front-facing user experience starts with brand assets — like physical samples and digital content. These assets include runway looks, campaign images, and product and e-commerce shots, and they have become key to efficiently sharing and amplifying the brand message with the world. 
For those who have just started or are looking to improve the digital experience they offer, look for centralized, cloud-based systems that enable internal teams to access the necessary data but also allow those outside your organization easy access. (Full disclosure: my company offers a digital asset management system and a digital showroom solution, as do others.) Plan to store all of your virtual assets in one place in an organized and easily attainable way.
The best way to get started with these tools is to organize your assets in an efficient way and grant access to all team members and key stakeholders. Make sure you categorize, tag and move assets in your library in a visual way; this will help you see exactly what is being moved and stay in control of what is visible to the end viewer.
Once you make sure you have the right tools to manage your assets internally, you now need to think about how to create a 360° experience — by relying fully on digital. Showcasing collections have taken on a new form, and brands should be coming up with more and more creative ways to attract the attention of the audience. You can try mini-documentaries, VR experiences, interactive websites, or even games. (Read More on Forbes)
QR technology: The Bridge to a Sustainable Fashion Industry
As one of the top polluting industries, Sara Swenson, Global Senior Manager Sustainability at Avery Dennison explains “there’s debate whether it’s the third, fourth or fifth most polluting industry, but it’s generally well known that about 4% of global carbon emissions and about 20% of water pollution comes from the fashion supply chain. So obviously it’s massive. On the US side, we dispose of about 70 pounds, which is about 30 to 32 kilogrammes clothes every year. So it’s a growing impact that has dramatically started impacting the world.”
Could Technology be the Answer to Sustainability Challenges?
Year after year, over 100 billion new garments are made, with US$450bn worth of textiles thrown away around the world. The emergence of a ‘fast fashion’ society has resulted in the average person not only buying 60% more clothes than in 2000 but also discarding more. On average, a family in the Western World throws away 30kg of clothing a year, with only 15% being recycled or donated. 
“Over the past 20 years, environmental issues have ramped up and ‘fast fashion’ is partly to blame,” says Swenson. “Fast fashion has changed the mindset of how quickly styles and consumers want to update their clothing lines. But over the past 20 years, consumers purchased about 60% more clothes than we did in 2000 and we’re not circulating those materials back in. They’re really going in a linear fashion: take, make and waste out. 
“We’ve really switched from having high quality garments to lower quality, more plastic based garments, and out of those that are manufactured every year, about 30% are just overstocked, they’re never even sold. So there’s all these waste stitches along the supply chain that need to be figured out, and then the recirculation of those raw materials back into the supply chain. None of that’s happening with fast fashion, because everything is done so quickly and consumers want new products so much faster than ever before.”
Adopting a circular economy approach, instead of a linear one can help the fashion industry to become more sustainable. “A Circular economy is really about designing out that waste and pollution that I was talking about within the supply chain, and then keeping those products and materials in use for as long as possible, and then regenerating them back into the supply chain at the end of their life,” says Swenson who strongly believes that this is important to do, “because A: we all know the risks to the environmental factors, and then B: customers and consumers want us to solve these problems. We’re getting more and more educated consumers that are willing to dive into the data. Brands are no longer able to greenwash and say, ‘Hey, we’re doing something sustainable’, they actually have to prove they’re doing something sustainable with the data that backs it up or approves it.” 
Mobile Technology: The Future of Sustainable, Transparent and Ethical Fashion
With 60% of consumers valuing brands that are transparent about their operations, fashion brands are turning to mobile technology such as QR Codes and NFC tags to provide their customers with end-to-end information on the product they have purchased from raw materials and production, right through to distribution and beyond. 
“Technology is probably going to be the easiest way to create data to show that brands are making more sustainable actions, that they are not just greenwashing their sustainability progress. It also gives supply chain stakeholders the right to ask questions and engage, as well as consumers to understand ‘if you make this choice in how you’re going to dispose of our garments, this is going to be your environmental impact. So it provides the right data that’s available to both the consumer and the brand and other stakeholders to make those choices,” says Swenson.
“Right now we’re asking stakeholders to make choices without data and without an easy solution. Consumers are not going to go through extensive links to find the right recycler, or find the right reseller. But if that information is at the tip of their fingers, on the garments that they can access, then they’re much more likely to make those appropriate environmental decisions as well.”
With it still being legislation to have physical care and contents information written on a garment, Swenson adds that “many brands are now adding a QR code with information such as how to better wash your garment, how to take care of it so that it has a longer life, the benefits of high quality garments that you want to dispose of, but is still good quality to resell, how to brand authenticate it, and then how it can be recycled at its end of life.”
Whilst Swenson explains that “labels are by no means the solution that is going to solve everything in the apparel supply chain, it is the place that most people go to find more information on their environment.”
Fashion brands adopting QR and NFC technology include PANGAIA, Sheep Inc., and Skopes.
In May 2021, materials science company - PANGAIA - partnered with EON to create ‘digital passports’ for its products. The lifestyle products brand uses QR code technology to accelerate greater transparency, traceability and circularity in the fashion industry, inspiring responsible consumer choices. 
QR codes are printed directly onto the care labels unlocking a bespoke digital experience when scanned with a mobile phone. The experience takes the customer on a journey from the product’s origin through to purchase, dyeing, production, distribution, transportation and aftercare. 
The digitalisation of this experience allows customers to be updated in real-time, bridging the gap towards a full circular model, providing authenticity and visibility of lifecycle data.
Sheep Inc.
Also partnering with EON, Sheep Inc. - the world’s first carbon-negative fashion brand - is leveraging a bio-based NFC tag that provides each customer with a unique ID to trace and discover their product’s supply chain journey.
The knitwear company leverages this technology to communicate with their customers the product’s carbon footprint at each stage of its supply chain journey from raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, and approximate usage. 
“Finding out how well or badly a brand has behaved shouldn’t have to turn into an exploratory mission. It should be instantly visible when you go to buy a garment.” commented Edzard van der Wyck, CEO and Co-Founder of Sheep Inc., on the partnership. “We need to get to the stage where brands give customers the full, non-redacted picture of the journey and the impact behind the things they buy.”
In 2020, Leeds-based brand - Skopes - coincided with the launch of its first sustainably sourced suit collection - made using plastic bottles - with its use of care labels with QR codes allowing customers to see exactly how and where their suits are made.
“We are really keen to reduce our environmental impact and have developed this collection diligently with Lyfcycle over the past 18 months,” commented Nick McGlynn, head of buying at Skopes, on the launch. “The aim with Lyfcycle is to create a fully self-sufficient, transparent loop of sustainable and traceable sourcing, production and delivery,” adds McGlynn.
Concluding on the future for this technology Swenson says, “the industry has made huge strides, and I think with technology and the availability of tracing and triggers on garments to hold that data, I think it really helps jump the industry forward into providing some actionable data that can be used to showcase a lot of their great efforts that are going unnoticed now, or focus on what they’re not doing and that they need to increase, increase what they are doing because it’s not working for their consumers or garments aren’t getting where they need to go. So some pretty exciting stuff is finally happening in this.” (Supply Chain Digital)
Online fashion industry clocks 51% growth order volume in FY21: Report
Online fashion industry witnessed an order volume growth of 51 per cent and gross merchant value (GMV) increase of 45 per cent in FY21 as compared to the previous financial year, a report by Unicommerce said on Thursday.
The faster volume growth as compared to GMV has led to a marginal decline of 4 per cent in the average order value, the report titled ‘Fashion E-commerce Report’ said.
Unicommerce, e-commerce focused SaaS (software as a service) platform, analysed fashion trends for the period of FY2021 and FY2020 with a sample size of over 70 million orders.
“Fashion labels have been at the forefront of re-inventing, re-strategising, and re-aligning themselves to rapidly evolving business environments and changing consumer needs. The industry has also observed multiple retail brands establishing their niche in the e-commerce industry,” it said.
The rising adoption of D2C (direct to consumer) amongst fashion brands has helped them build a strong connect with the consumer, leading to higher growth.
The brand websites have reported 66 percent order volume growth and 77 percent GMV growth in FY2021 as compared to the previous financial year, the report said.
The strong order volume growth supported with higher GMV growth has led to a 6 percent increase in average order value, it added.
As compared to brand websites, marketplaces have reported 45 percent order volume growth and 33 percent GMV growth, with an 8 percent decline in the average order value for FY2021 - which strongly reinforces that the fashion brands are investing aggressively to build a stronger D2C presence.
Notably, the trend of shopping fashion online is getting prominent in tier-II and III cities, with 118 percent order volume growth coming from these locations driving 192 percent order volume growth.
Womenswear held the majority share of the e-commerce fashion market with a 50 percent share and reported 30 percent order volume growth in FY2021 as compared to the previous financial year.
On the other hand, the kids wear segment registered over 200 percent order volume growth and the market share significantly increased from 3 percent in FY2020 to 17 percent in FY-2021.
The menswear segment maintained consistent growth with 37 percent order volume growth and 33 percent market share in FY2021, the report said.
Casual accounted for 84 percent market share in FY21 and 49 percent y-o-y order volume growth in FY2021. The formal wear category saw over 100 percent order volume growth.
“Fashion segment is one of the biggest contributors to the e-commerce industry of India with the highest order volume. This report deep dives into the fashion industry to analyze the trends in the online fashion space… this report will help fashion e-tailers in understanding the changing dynamics of the fashion e-commerce industry,” Unicommerce CEO Kapil Makhija said. (Business Standard)
COVID-19 affects men and women differently. So why don’t clinical trials report gender data?
COVID-19 doesn’t strike the sexes equally. Globally, for every 10 COVID-19 intensive care unit admissions among women, there are 18 for men; for every 10 women who die of COVID-19, 15 men die. In the United States, a gender gap is emerging in vaccination rates, with women ahead of men by 6 percentage points, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And rare adverse effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine appear to strike women more frequently, whereas those from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines more often affect young men.
But out of 45 COVID-19 randomized controlled trials whose results were published by December 2020, only eight reported the impact of sex or gender, according to a paper published today in Nature Communications. Other recent data show even simple counts of cases and vaccinations are not broken down by sex and gender.
Senior author Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, a gender and health researcher at Radboud University Medical Center, was disheartened by her group’s findings. “I would have assumed that [sex] would be picked up in the trials, simply because it’s such an evident piece of the puzzle,” she says. Skipping that step is potentially dangerous in trials of drugs that may affect men and women differently, given their physiological differences, Oertelt-Prigione says. And it misses an opportunity to learn about the workings of the disease, adds Susan Phillips, an epidemiologist at Queen’s University who was not involved in the study.
Martin Landray of the University of Oxford finds the lack of attention to sex effects surprising, too. He led the United Kingdom’s Recovery trial, which found the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab reduces the risk of death from COVID-19 and did explore whether results differed by sex (though it found none worth reporting). “I just thought that’s what everybody did.” Phillips, however, notes that researchers have often skipped gender analyses in published clinical research for more than 30 years. “The problem remains,” she says. “And this makes the current paper important.”
Oertelt-Prigione’s team searched PubMed for all papers on COVID-19 published before December 15, 2020, excluding commentaries, observational trials, and other studies to identify 45 randomized controlled trials that tested potential treatments and vaccines. All trials in the study reported numbers of male and female participants. But only eight examined whether results differed among men and women, the team found. (Read More on Science Mag)
  • US State Department Will Add a Third Gender Option to Passport Applications: Transgender applicants will also no longer need to provide medical certification when selecting their gender. The State Department just made U.S. passports a lot more inclusive. On June 30, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the Department is working toward adding a third gender marker for nonbinary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people on passport applications. In addition, Americans are now allowed to self-select “M” or “F” when applying for a passport without having to provide medical certification if the gender doesn’t match their birth certificate, effective immediately. (AFAR)
  • Pinterest courts Gen Z by giving users a choice of gender pronouns: Image-sharing platform Pinterest will let its 475 million regular users choose their own gender pronouns from a list of nine options, the company said on Tuesday, following similar moves by other social media networks. The site, which allows users to “pin” or save pictures, GIFs, or videos to curated pinboards, said the change reflected a sharp increase in searches about sexuality and gender identity among so-called Generation Z users - people born after 1997. Members of Gen Z increasingly identify as LGBT+, and Pinterest joins Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn in offering non-binary - neither male nor female - pronoun options on account profiles. (Reuters)
  • Eminem’s child comes out as non-binary: In a TikTok video, the 19-year-old revealed their journey and asked friends, family and fans to call them Stevie. The video starts with the text “watch me become more comfortable with myself,” before showing pictures of their transition. The photos pass by with their previous name and pronouns, followed by photos featuring new looks with the text “Stevie – she/they,” and with more recent pictures with the text “Stevie – all pronouns.” Eminem adopted Stevie in 2005, after he got back together with their mother, Kim Scott. Scott is the mother of the rapper’s biological daughter, Hailie. (KTVZ)
News from Around the World
  • How non-binary Filipinos reconcile their identities with their language’s lack of LGBT terms: When Nelson Agustín took up drag for the first time, they realized they did not identify with masculine pronouns — and that they were, in fact, non-binary.  But it took years for Agustin to realize their true identity, which happened after they immigrated to Canada from the Philippines, where the Tagalog language has no apt word for non-binary people. “It’s a little bit difficult to identify myself in Tagalog because I don’t think there are any specific words that equate to being non-binary,” said Agustín. “The closest would be the Tagalog word for gay, which is bakla.” A bakla typically refers to a cisgender man who adopts a traditionally feminine gender expression, regardless of whether they are homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual. The inverse of bakla is a tomboy or binalaki — often used to describe lesbian Filipinos — which translates to “made a man.” Gay, bisexual, or non-binary Filipinos can identify as bakla or binalaki. For Agustín, these limited terms show how Tagalog falls short of being inclusive to LGBT identities. (CBC News)
  • Argentina Formally Recognizes Nonbinary People, a Latin American First: Argentines no longer have to be identified as female or male on their national identity documents, the latest step in President Alberto Fernández’s push for gender equality. BUENOS AIRES — Argentina has become the first country in Latin America to officially recognize gender nonbinary people, who can now choose to have their gender marked as an X on their national identity documents and passports if they do not identify as either female or male. The change, enacted by decree by President Alberto Fernández, is the latest example of how he has made it a priority to expand the rights of women and sexual minorities. It comes weeks after he signed into law a measure that sets aside one percent of the country’s public sector jobs for transgender individuals, which Congress approved in June. “We have the need to expand our minds and realize that there are other ways to love and be loved and there are other identities besides the identity of man and the identity of woman,” Mr. Fernández said Wednesday in a ceremony where he presented the first three national identity documents with nonbinary markers. “And they must be respected.” Argentina joins several other countries, including New Zealand, Canada, and Australia, as well as several U.S. states, that allow a nonbinary gender marker in identity documents. (NYTimes)
Generation Genderless is a free newsletter that I curate on my own time to spread awareness about issues related to gender around the world. If you like what you’ve read and would like to support Generation Genderless, please consider forwarding this newsletter to a friend or colleague or purchasing our merch to support Gender Inclusive design.
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