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Generation Genderless - Issue #6

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
9 Gender-Neutral Wedding Fashion Brands Everyone Should Know
Whether you’re saying “I do”, or just a guest at a wedding, feeling your best on a special day is of the utmost importance. Today, more and more people are leaning toward gender-neutral looks, as opposed to traditional wedding attire, and we are absolutely here for it! Blurred binary boundaries are officially the future of fashion, which is why we’re so excited to highlight some of our favorite gender-neutral wedding and formalwear brands.
From traditional gowns to unique and bold pieces, brands and retailers are finally embracing the true meaning of love, acceptance, and inclusivity. And however you identify, we’re here to say that there are many fashion options to choose from that will fit all body types and styles.
Ahead, check out nine phenomenal and inclusive retailers who’ve made it their mission to create gender-neutral pieces you’ll feel good about wearing each and every day. (Read More on Brides)
Jimmy Choo and Billy Porter Released a Shoe Collection That Goes Up to a Women’s Size 15
Proving that style doesn’t have a specific gender and that individualism and personal expression should be celebrated, Billy Porter teamed up with Jimmy Choo for a capsule collection of gender-neutral, size-inclusive shoes that go all the way up to women’s size 15 - which translates to a men’s size 13. Porter curated the collection, which takes iconic silhouettes from the Choo archives and injects them with bold color, prints, and metallic accents. 
“I have learned that the only shoes I need to be stepping in are my own,” Porter says with a twirl in the launch video (below). “They are big shoes to fill.”
To celebrate the release, Jimmy Choo is donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a cause close to Porter that hopes to end LGBTQ suicide with 24/7 phone, text, and chat crisis counseling.
Porter explained that he dedicated the capsule collection to his mom, who was disabled and never had the chance to walk in high heels. He called her the personification of unconditional love and hopes that the collection shows his dedication to authenticity and love. The collection includes pumps, boots, and loafers in jewel tones, rich suede, and statement-making animal print as well as an oversized clutch offered in croc-embossed leather, and patchwork metallic leather.
“This line is dedicated to my mother, whose biggest dream as a disabled woman was to be able to walk in a pair of high-heeled shoes. She never got to achieve that dream, but I get to stand in proxy for her for all the world to see,” Porter said in a release. “My mother is the personification of the power of what true unconditional love looks like. And as a gender-neutral collection, my goal is to free folks from the chains that bind authenticity on all levels.”
(Read More on In Style)
These Queer People Couldn’t Find Clothes That Fit — So They Made Their Own
2020 was the year of the hobby: home improvement stores like Home Depot saw a huge increase in revenue, millennials forgot their aversion to gluten and learned how to bake bread, and the age-old tradition of sewing reemerged as a popular craft, leading to a boom in sewing machine sales
This list probably doesn’t surprise you. In a year characterized by quarantine and isolation, it’s likely you participated in at least one of the hobbies listed above. 
But the increased interest in sewing, in particular, was not limited to (or dependent on) COVID-19. Even before the pandemic, millennial sewers were hard at work reclaiming the craft — which, until recently, was still perceived as being dominated by older white women. 
Central to this trend are queer sewists (a moniker meaning both sewer and artist), who are creating garments that defy the gendered norms of the mainstream fashion world.
“I think gender and gender norms are super limiting for everyone,” said Terrance Williams, an avid designer and sewer.
“For me, clothing has always just been clothing. I have never assigned a gender to anything I wear. And now, it’s even more so like that — because it’s just cotton, or just polyester, or just sequins. It’s really about how it makes you feel.” Is the future of fashion gender-neutral?
Far away from the anything-goes world of queer DIY, most clothing stores are still strictly segregated by gender: women’s clothing on one side, men’s on the other. 
And though “gender-neutral” fashion has experienced a surge in popularity, that term is often just shorthand for putting masc clothing on bodies that aren’t traditionally interpreted as masculine. Sewist Tess Clabby isn’t particularly impressed. 
“The creativity of making the clothes myself is definitely very tied to my relationship to queerness,” says sewist Tess Clabby.  |  Credit: @topstitchbitch // Instagram
“It’s obviously not the most interesting or exciting thing and not something that will work for everyone either,” they said.
“I mean, if you actually have a curvy body, a men’s suit isn’t going to look on you the way that it looks on a six foot tall thin person on the runway, you know? So it’s about making styles work for the bodies that we have.”(Read More on ReWire)
Fashion Tech
The Metaverse: Fashion’s New Frontier?
The fashion industry is known for taking creative risks, so it is understandable that the industry is taking its next steps—literally—out of this world. Big name labels and innovative fashion start-ups are setting their sights on the so-called “Metaverse,” a persistent, digital universe that transcends virtual borders and promises to be the next frontier of fashion, e-commerce, and advertising.
What Is the Metaverse?
The concept of the Metaverse can be traced back to science fiction author Neal Stephenson whose 1992 novel “Snow Crash” depicted an immersive, virtual reality-based successor to the Internet. And while this may still seem like little more than science fiction, the Metaverse is much closer to reality than most Americans realize.
For almost two decades, digital platforms like SecondLife and Entropia Universe have allowed users to immerse themselves in digital worlds where they can build communities, entertain themselves, and even earn money. Today, popular games like Fortnite, Roblox, and World of Warcraft are increasingly blurring the lines between virtual and non-virtual worlds, offering shared spaces and experiences that were previously only offered in person. Last year, for example, Fortnite hosted a digital concert with rapper Travis Scott that attracted more than 45 million viewers over five performances, while Roblox hosted a virtual concert experience with Lil Nas X that attracted more than 30 million viewers.
Growing numbers of consumers are also showing that they are prepared to spend big bucks on virtual goods and services. Despite being free-to-play, many of the most popular games today derive significant amounts of revenue by selling digital apparel, gear, loot, and other in-game perks. As the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has noted, these microtransactions have become a multi-billion-dollar market.
While a true Metaverse that stitches together these various digital worlds is likely still a ways away, the technology arms race is well underway. Facebook announced this month that it has formed a new product team focused on the Metaverse, which will focus in part on “build[ing] the connective tissue between [digital] spaces.” Meanwhile, Epic Games, the studio behind Fortnite, recently announced it raised $1 billion in funding to support its vision of the Metaverse. The growing number of virtual and augmented reality devices on the market will make it even easier for consumers to traverse the boundary between virtual and non-virtual reality.
The Fashion Industry and the Metaverse
Big-name designers have already started to infiltrate the Metaverse, recognizing the enormous economic potential of digital goods. In one eye-catching example, a digital edition of a Gucci handbag (“Dionysus Bag with Bee”) sold for more than $4,115 on Roblox, a price of almost $800 more than the “real” bag, which typically sells for $3,400. The virtual bag was an in-game accessory that had no value outside of Roblox.
Similarly, in what was billed as the “first-ever collaboration between a global eSport and a luxury fashion house,” Louis Vuitton released a capsule collection for Riot Games’ “League of Legends.” The collection included pieces ranging in price from a $170 bandeau to a $5,600 leather jacket. Louis Vuitton also designed “skins” (i.e., outfits) that players could purchase for their characters for approximately $10 each.
In another collaboration, the video-game streaming service Twitch streamed the Burberry Spring/Summer 2021 show from London Fashion Week, drawing approximately 42,000 concurrent viewers.
And it’s not just the traditional fashion houses: virtual-only fashion houses are popping up as well. DressX, which produces digital fashion, recently raised $2 million in a seed round, while virtual shopping platform Obsess recently raised $13.4 million in Series A funding, one of many examples pointing to the influx of investing in virtual retail experiences.
Like any form of advertising, tapping into the Metaverse allows brands to reach audiences they otherwise might not and to connect with consumers in a medium where they are likely to be engaged, attentive, and spending a significant amount of time and money. (Read More on JD Supra)
How this 32-year-old couple is redressing the multibillion-dollar fashion rental industry
When husband and wife Chris Halim and Raena Lim saw an opportunity to redress sustainability issues in the fashion industry, they wanted to do so in style.  
And the duo behind clothes rental app Style Theory certainly don’t do things by halves. 
“We did put in like $40,000,” the couple, who quit their jobs to take their start-up full time, told CNBC Make It.
“Honestly, we don’t know whether we are foolish or brave.”
Finding the right fit
Lim and Halim are the co-founders of Style Theory, a Singaporean fashion rental platform that allows subscribers to loan unlimited items for a flat monthly fee.
The SoftBank-backed start-up today boasts more than 200,000 registered users across Singapore and Indonesia and offers an inventory of 50,000 clothes and more than 2,000 bags. 
But when ex-Goldman Sachs banker Lim and consultant husband Halim got the idea for the company back in 2016, it was in response to a very common conundrum — having nothing to wear.  “The ‘aha’ moment came when Chris actually questioned me and he’s like ‘why is it you have so many clothes and you’re always complaining that you have nothing to wear?’,” recalled chief operations officer Lim.
“For someone who came from a finance background, using logic and mathematics, it just suddenly felt like wow, that’s really a very illogical response that I have to fashion,” she said.
Styling it out
Having spent her early career working for a non-profit in Kenya, Lim was keen to start a project that allowed her to do good. And with the environmental damage of fast fashion coming to the fore, the opportunity was clear. 
Textile production is one of the world’s largest polluters, generating global emissions equivalent to 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year — more than all international flights and shipping combined. That inefficiency has spawned a host of new clothing rental platforms seeking to satisfy conscious consumers with a guilt-free alternative to fast fashion. 
Pioneered in 2009 by U.S. platform Rent The Runway, the circular fashion industry has bloomed over the past decade, inspiring other brands such as My Wardrobe HQ in the U.K. and GlamCorner in Australia. Yet, the logistical challenges of Southeast Asia made it a tough market to crack. That led newbie entrepreneurs Lim and Halim to adopt a test-first strategy.  
“We started with a waitlist first, so we had enough number of clothes and enough capacity for customers,” said chief executive Halim. “As the customers come in, we are either proven right or proven wrong and then we continuously iterate from there.”(Read More on CNBC)
Data
Old Navy overhauls plus-size fashion line for women to win sales in $32 billion market - CNBC
For American women, shopping for a stylish outfit in size 16 or above can be a hassle.
It can entail walking to a tiny corner tucked in the back of a store, or directing a web browser to a pint-sized section of a retailer’s website, where the models displayed may or may not be plus-sized. Or, it could involve shopping from brands entirely different from where a woman’s thinner friends shop. Although more women than ever are searching for extended sizes, the choices can be frustratingly limited.
Old Navy is looking to seize this opportunity. And part of the retailer’s strategy will involve breaking down some of the barriers that have existed for years.
Old Navy will soon offer sizes 0-28 and XS-4X for all of its women’s styles in its stores, and up to size 30 online. On its website, the Gap Inc.-owned brand will create a single destination for all women’s clothing. Models will appear in sizes four, 12 and 18.
Across its 1,200 stores, Old Navy will also rearrange merchandise so that customers in search of extended sizes won’t be directed to a separate area to browse, which has been the case since Old Navy debuted dedicated plus-size shops in 75 stores in 2018. All stores will soon feature mannequins in sizes four, 12 and 18.
Although Old Navy has offered a smattering of plus-size apparel since 2004, its latest efforts go beyond prior attempts to reach this market. To succeed, it will need to effectively juggle a wider array of inventory, which can be a risky bet.
“As we started to understand the opportunity here, we realized a few years ago that we weren’t doing enough to really think about size inclusion and how the demographics are changing in the U.S.,” Old Navy Chief Executive Nancy Green said in an interview.
“I have family members that wear plus sizes, and I can’t shop with them,” Green added. “And shopping is social. It’s something that people want to do together.”
Old Navy’s investments come as the plus-size apparel category is seeing growth, in part because of an increasing obesity rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 73.6% of all U.S. adults over the age of 20 are overweight, with the average woman wearing a size 16 to 18.
The fashion industry doesn’t strictly define the plus-size category, but a number of retailers put anything over size 14 in this segment.
Retail research and advisory group Coresight Research has estimated that the value of the extended-size market for women in the U.S. will grow to $32.3 billion this year, representing roughly 20.7% of the total women’s apparel market. (Coresight cited Plus Model magazine, which identifies plus-sized apparel as sizes 18 and over, or 1X and up.)
“Extended sizes has been outpacing the growth of the regular-size market, and according to our research it’s going to continue to outpace the regular-sized market,” said Brian Ehrig, a partner in the consumer practice of the global strategy and management consulting firm Kearney.
“The average American is a plus size, yet only about 20% of the apparel is actually made in those sizes,” he added. “So, we have this very strange dichotomy.” (Read More on CNBC)
Culture
  • Wisconsin Birth Certificate with Gender Neutral Choices – NBC Chicago: Governor Tony Evers said Monday that Wisconsin’s birth form should include a gender-neutral option to identify the parents of a child. Evers and the State Health Department have added “Parent-Parent” and “Parent” to the form used to generate a birth certificate since July 1, in addition to the current “Mother-Father” option to identify the parent. Announced that the “Childbirth” option will be included. .. “This change reflects my and my administration’s commitment to recognizing that gender-neutral terminology and the Wisconsin family are diverse and should be valued and respected,” Evers said. Told. The new form will also be available in English, Spanish and Hmong. Sue Erickson, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health-Meriter, said: “We are very pleased that Wisconsin has created a more comprehensive birth certificate form to reflect the state and community families.”(Illinois Today)
  • Ford and GM replace ‘chairman’ title with gender-neutral ‘chair’: Ford Motor Company’s Bill Ford is no longer chairman of the automaker’s board of directors, but he’s still running the show. The automaker’s board voted last week to amend Ford’s bylaws to “adopt gender-neutral language throughout, including the title ‘chair’ in place of ‘chairman,’” according to a recent regulatory filing. Bill Ford’s new title is simply “chair.” The changes, which took effect immediately, are a pretty big step for the historically male-dominated auto industry. They come after large swaths of corporate America have promised employees and investors that they will be more inclusive and focus on diversity efforts following social unrest in the wake of the #MeToo movement and George Floyd’s murder last year. “Our roles at Ford aren’t gender exclusive and these changes help limit ambiguity and contribute to the inclusive and equitable culture we’re creating,” Ford spokeswoman Marisa Bradley said in an emailed statement. A spokesman for General Motors said Monday it removed the “chairman” title from CEO Mary Barra in exchange for “chair” in May. He said GM did not change its bylaws but made the changes internally and to the company’s website. (CNBC)
News from Around the World
  • Ready for their close-up, Gen Z men in Japan snap up cosmetics: Japan’s Generation Z, raised by parents who believed in the benefit of sunblock and moisturizers, is naturally into cosmetics and skin care products – regardless of gender. Gen Z men – those born in or after the late 1990s – spend about 20% more a month on cosmetics than the overall population. Top sellers among this group are priced over 2,000 yen ($18), signaling their willingness to shell out more than women. “I have been using beauty balm and lip cream regularly since a year ago,” said a 20-something man who lives in Tokyo. He described becoming interested in the products and buying them after the brand of hairstyling products he has been using launched men’s makeup.“I would like have unblemished skin, to feel better,” the man said. Japan’s overall cosmetics market for both women’s and men’s products shrank 11% to 931.5 billion yen ($8.4 billion) in 2020, according to research firm Intage. But the men’s segment grew 4% to 37.3 billion yen despite the pandemic. The pandemic may have played a role. The spread of the coronavirus has boosted the popularity of Zoom and TikTok as classes, business meetings and drinking parties have moved online. “People see their own faces on the screen more often, and this sparked men’s interest in cosmetics,” according to an analysis by Intage. The men’s cosmetics market has been expanding steadily, swelling 11% over the past five years. Boy and men between the ages of 15 and 19 spend 5,607 yen per month on basic cosmetics while those in their 20s spend 5,410 yen, according to a survey by Hot Pepper Beauty Academy last year. These figures are 15% to 19% higher than the average for all men. (Nikkei Asia)
  • Belgian fashion chain scraps gender labels on children’s clothing: Belgian fashion chain JBC has announced it will no longer put references to gender labels on the clothing in its children’s department as part of an initiative coinciding with the start of a new school year. This means that, from Monday, the selection of the clothing will no longer be divided by gender and all signs referring to gender will be taken away, according to Mie Van Der Auwera, manager of PR agency MMBSY, which also works together with JBC. “This is more than a marketing campaign, as JBC is making clear it wants to support people in their own development and strive for equality and free choices and empower children in their dreams,” she told Radio 1.  “It is a first step that they are taking here. When you come to the shop, there is no sign indicating boys or girls clothing, so if, for example, a boy likes a T-shirt with flowers on it, he can buy it and that is fine,” she added. The clothing department will instead place labels per age category to indicate the baby, children and teenager collections. In a bid to “support young people and their families to step away from stereotypes”, it is also launching a gender-neutral collection, which will include jumpers imprinted with the words ‘When I grow up I want to be’, and will include jobs such as CEO, animal doctor and game developer, professions the company believes every child can dream of.“International research shows that stereotypes cause us to associate high-level intellectual capabilities with men rather than women. This discourages women’s career choices; women are under-represented in ‘smart’ disciplines,” Steven Gielis, lecturer in Orthopedagogy at AP University of Applied Sciences, said. Van Der Auwera added that this move is less about trends, and more about children no longer wanting to be put in boxes, but wanting the freedom to choose and not to grow up with certain expectations and prejudices. (Brussels Times)
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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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Generation Genderless
Generation Genderless

Welcome to Generation Genderless - a Bi-Monthly Newsletter of top Insights and Info around Gender in Fashion, Health, Beauty, and Society. Delivered to your inbox, every two weeks.

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