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Generation Genderless - Issue #7

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
Fashion industry ponders post-pandemic world at MAGIC trade show
In Las Vegas, the fashion industry is looking toward a post-pandemic world.
On Wednesday, the MAGIC fashion trade show concluded its three-day event at the Las Vegas Convention Center, its first exposition in the city since February 2020.
This year’s in-person convention was a welcome sight for Kelly Helfman, commercial president for Informa Markets Fashion, after a hiatus of more than year-and-a-half thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Fashion is so tactile, these buyers want to touch and feel the product that they’re buying for their stores,” Helfman said. “So it’s really important that we’re here, in person, doing business.”
This year, MAGIC, dubbed the “most comprehensive fashion marketplace in the U.S.,” featured more than 700 brands and retailers. The trade show “aims to be a seamless one-stop shop” for young contemporary and trend apparel, accessories, children’s clothing, sportswear, menswear and footwear at “value to mass-market price points,” a press release from MAGIC states.
“Brands have been on the road and only doing digital or regional events this past year. This is their first big international live show, so I am eager to see how brands present their collection to buyers from all around the world,” Jordan Rudow, vice president of events at MAGIC, said in an event preview statement.
As vaccinations rise and the coronavirus pandemic wanes, this year’s fashion trends are all about “optimism, sparkle, drama, and also a little bit of fantasy,” according to Jessica Richards, the founder of JMR Design Consulting and fashion director for AC Magazine. (Read More on Review Journal)
(Opinion) Ethical consumption can’t be the burden of shoppers alone
Imagine this: You’re browsing online and find two different shirts you like. One is from a company you believe to have good business practices. The exact criteria don’t matter so much for this hypothetical, but let’s say it tries to use more sustainable materials and only sources from factories where workers are paid decent wages.
The other shirt is half the price, and is made by a company you know has been linked to environmental pollution and poor working conditions at the factories in low-wage countries it relies on to churn out the huge volume of cheap clothes it sells.
You want to buy one of the shirts, so now you have a choice to make: Do you pay more for the first shirt, or less for the second?
It’s a question shoppers encounter all the time, even if they aren’t always aware of it. Many—probably most—will buy the cheaper option without a second thought. For those that do consider the conundrum, it will likely provoke other questions, like how much difference will any one purchase make?
Here’s a different question to consider: Why is that second shirt available to begin with?
Products that involve exploitative, environmentally destructive, or otherwise harmful business practices somewhere in their making aren’t hard to find on store shelves. They can range from the chocolate we eat to the phones we use. In some cases the practices are plainly illegal and companies are held responsible. Often, though, they toe the boundaries of legality, and companies avoid liability because they don’t own the farms, mines, or factories themselves, instead relying on a chain of independent contractors who bear the legal risks for them.
In these scenarios, it’s generally left to consumers to decide which companies they want to support. It’s the free market at work: Give shoppers options and they will vote with their dollars, the logic goes. Ultimately the good will rise and the bad will fall. Consumers bear a similar responsibility for recycling, or avoiding single-use plastics such as bags and straws.
The paradigm ostensibly puts the power in the hands of ordinary citizens. But in doing so, it puts much of the responsibility for policing companies on them too, when they may not be in the best position to handle the job. It can be hard for consumers to gather all the information needed to make fully informed decisions, and even supposedly ethical shoppers don’t always make ethics the top priority in their purchases. (Read More on QZ)
Gender-Free, Environmentally-Friendly Phluid Green Label Launches At Nordstrom
Rob Smith has been working hard to continue the evolution of The Phluid Project, the gender-neutral store he founded in Manhattan in March of 2018, and closed in January 2020 to focus on growing its mandate across the U.S. and illuminating its ideals beyond the four walls.
Now, he’s launching a new brand, Phluid Green Label, which ticks off all the pertinent boxes for inclusivity and sustainability. Bowing at Nordstrom, JWN -2.4% global distribution is also in the offing. A European retailer “wanted to buy it and redesign it,” Smith, founder and CEO of The Phluid Project, told me. “I think we should slow down and strategize on how we can do this. They have work to do before they put Phluid on their floor. I offered to help.
“The Phluid Project continues to lead with purpose and humanity by amplifying voices long silenced and giving visibility to those long overlooked,” said Smith. “We’re deeply grounded in our mission to lift the voices of our community through activism, and education.”  Phluid’s creative process begins with RISE, which stands for responsibility, inclusion, solutions and expression, Smith said. “We’ve listened to our community, and through this focused lens, our evolution will allow us to grow our commitment to the care and sustenance of our planet.”
Resale and rental is being revisited and rebooted, post-pandemic, driven by a heightened desire to look good and do good; globally, resales alone will grow by 93% to $64 billion by 2024, according to Stylus.
Launching a gender-fluid label is difficult under any circumstances. Introducing one that’s also sustainable multiplies the complexity, Smith said, adding, “It’s been a really hard lift. To do sustainable is not easy. It’s very complicated, and to do it gender-free and find someone who wants to do it is even more challenging.” (Read More on Forbes)
‘We work non-stop’: LA garment workers toil for top brands and earn paltry rate
Thousands of garment workers in Los Angeles who make pants, shirts, blouses and other clothing for a variety of well-known fashion labels are paid less than minimum wage through a piece-rate payment system that compensates workers just a few cents per article of clothing.
Works say they typically work from 7am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and an additional five hours on Saturday – about 60 hours a week with no overtime pay, which results in overall wages at $5 an hour or less, far below California’s statewide minimum wage of $14 an hour for companies with more than 26 employees.
“We work non-stop. We don’t take any breaks, but make anywhere from $250 to $300 per week,” said one worker who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation and to protect her undocumented status.
During the pandemic, the worker explained that her employer and several other factories in the garment industry continued operating without enforcing Covid safety protocols, moving sewing machines into a windowless basement to hide production from regulatory authorities.
One factory – operated by Los Angeles Apparel – was ordered to shut down in July last year after a Covid-19 outbreak among workers resulted in more than 300 positive cases and the deaths of four workers.
“It’s very sad to live off of a salary that is $250 to $300 a week. It’s not enough to survive on. I have a mom, dad, and daughters in Guatemala, and I’m here paying rent with these wages. I can’t afford shoes or choose to move anywhere else,” the worker added.
A second garment factory worker explained that workers have to spend their brief meal breaks eating in a kitchen infested with rats and cockroaches, and when workers get injured they are expected to take care of themselves.
“Something that happens very commonly is the sewing needle will actually break through and impale one of your fingers, and many factories don’t even have a first aid kit,” said the worker.
“There’s not even a Band-Aid for you, so it’s up to you to pull the needle out of your finger. And there’s no health insurance for us. It’s really up to us to fix ourselves.”
During the pandemic, workers at her factory were laid off and not recalled to work until they were vaccinated several months ago, but because they are undocumented, they received no unemployment or stimulus benefits while out of work. (Read More on The Guardian)
Fashion Tech
How On-Demand Manufacturing Boosts Inclusivity and Ends Excuses
When it comes to producing extended sizes, many in the fashion industry have jumped on the bandwagon… with a litany of excuses: “I’m not sure where to start;” “There isn’t enough demand to justify the production costs;” “Producing to additional sizes will affect the bottom line;” “We don’t have the technology or experience to make extended sizes,” and so on.
Yet a profound change in public opinion has demanded more brand inclusivity, not just in sizing, but in elements like adaptive design and an openness to working with all types of designers, brands and companies. In short, no more excuses.
It’s also smart business. According to Allied Market Research, the plus-size clothing market garnered $480.99 billion in 2019 and is anticipated to reach $696.71 billion by 2027.
On-demand manufacturing is a way for companies to tip-toe into this growing market—testing demand, producing only what is needed, and creating new market opportunities without committing to large up-front inventory.
“With on demand manufacturing, companies won’t have to waste what is not used,” explained Michael Clevestig, director of marketing-Americas, at Lectra. “It also allows for smaller companies to break into the space without the need for high overhead, both with inventory and labor.”
Some brands shun larger sizes because they use more fabric and thus cost more to make, and labels can’t necessarily charge more. But on-demand manufacturing actually uses less fabric, because companies aren’t purchasing extra materials to create excess—and wasteful—inventory that doesn’t get sold.
Consumers can also customize their garments and upload their own measurements to an on-demand order, so brands produce on-demand clothing that perfectly fits their shoppers. This eliminates fit issues, which are the root cause for costly retail returns.
“There are more returns with sizes that are made to ‘standard’ body shapes because many companies only cater to two to three body shapes,” Clevestig said. “So whether you need a larger size or you simply don’t fit the mold, returns occur because people aren’t a one size fits all.”
On-demand manufacturing allows for better control of how products are nested together, so you can produce multiple sizes at once to better utilize the material, Clevestig added. It also lets brands adjust surface design on the fly with digital design, especially helpful if they don’t know how to visualize the placement in an area they are not familiar with. (Read More on Sourcing Journal)
Browzwear Raises $35 Million to Accelerate Product Development and Market Expansion
Investment from Radian Capital reinforces value of digital transformation and connectivity throughout the fashion industry ecosystem
New York, NY, Aug. 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Browzwear, a pioneer of 3D digital solutions for the fashion industry, today announced the closing of a $35 million funding round from growth equity firm Radian Capital. As the first institutional financing received by Browzwear, the investment will accelerate delivery of the company’s aggressive goals for platform development and market expansion.
Radian, an investor in mature, capital-efficient B2B technology companies including industry-leading software and platforms such as Mural, Emailage and Encompass Technologies, invested in Browzwear based on the company’s existing leadership position and track record of growth.
“We look to partner with market leaders that have been able to build strong, healthy businesses on their own terms,“ said Weston Gaddy, a co-founder and Partner at Radian Capital. ”A 20-year-long overnight success story, Browzwear invented the use of 3D design for apparel and is increasingly being adopted as the design system of record by the largest brands and manufacturers in the industry. The company has done something incredible in getting to that position without outside funding and with impressive, profitable growth.”
With a visionary management team, pioneering technology and large global customer base, Browzwear is already the leader in end-to-end digital product creation for the apparel industry, with a 40 percent year-over-year growth over the last five years. The additional capital from Radian will enable the company to build on those advantages and deliver on its goal to more than double the size of the business over the next two years. (Read More on Yahoo Finance)
Haiti Earthquake Delivers Another Blow to Budding Manufacturing Hub
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake that has killed at least 2,200 people in Haiti is the latest in a series of blows that threaten the country’s apparel and footwear manufacturers.
According to the International Finance Corporation, the apparel industry is Haiti’s largest formal employer, providing jobs for over 55,000 Haitians and supporting more than 450,000 people.
Haiti is the 14th largest supplier of apparel imports into the US market, representing 1.36 percent of imports in the category. The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) said Haiti had been seeing consistent year-over-year growth in exports, despite the pandemic.
In addition to the effects of the pandemic, with cancelled orders and factory shutdowns, just last month, Haiti’s President, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated at his residence by a group of foreign mercenaries, furthering tensions in a nation already ridden with growing political unrest.
Beth Hughes, AAFA’s vice president of trade and customs policy, said Haiti could “count on the apparel and footwear industry for support during this difficult time.”
“Haiti has been – and will continue to be – an important partner to our industry,” she added.
Haitian designer, Nasrin Jean-Baptiste, says that countries like hers need the business that being a reliable manufacturing hub for fashion brands brings, but she worries reliability will become increasingly difficult.
“[Amidst this] political, environmental and social-economic landscape, how [will] Haiti continue to manufacture under such instability,” she said. (Business of Fashion)
  • Hacks actor Carl Clemons-Hopkins stuns Emmys red carpet with powerful non-binary flag tribute: The Hacks star made history earlier this year when they were nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. The monumental acclamation secured Clemons-Hopkins’ place in history as the first openly non-binary performer to be nominated in Emmy’s history. Even though they didn’t take home an Emmy, Clemons-Hopkins stood out from the crowd of luxe gowns and striking tuxedos in their stunning outfit on Sunday (19 September). They proudly strutted down the red carpet parade in a breathtaking black and white Christian Siriano outfit with a Bardot neckline and stand-out sash in yellow and purple. Sirano confirmed on Instagram that the look was “in support of the non-binary flag” as Clemons-Hopkins “makes history tonight being the first non-binary person to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Emmys”. (Pink News)
  • (Opinion) WANT TO DISRUPT HEALTHCARE? BREAK THE BINARY: For over 10 years, I have loved healthcare advertising. I believe it is an art and a science. In my role as a strategist, I often focus on deriving insights from audience behavior so my team can better reach or portray them. I strive for representation. I am a Black American millennial woman. I am begrudgingly accustomed to underrepresentation, lack of inclusion, and empty hashtags. I acknowledge some privilege. I am an American-born, heterosexual, cisgender person with above-average income using expected pronouns. But in my personal and professional life, I work for change, including in myself and how I view the world For most of my life, I thought pronouns were fixed. Relationships challenged, then changed, my view. Enter Gwyn Dylan Krueger. We became friends when they moved into our quaint New Jersey suburb from Brooklyn with his wife and son. We have much in common: A sense of humor. Sons we adore. A love of the outdoors—we are going camping on Assateague Island in August. And a 50% chance of developing cancer. Why? We were assigned female at birth. Gwyn is a non-binary trans person who uses they/them and he/him pronouns. Should I develop cancer, I will face systemic barriers and bias. He will face different obstacles. Chief among them is simply being recognized. In this land of the free, he must be brave, because today, in America and much of the world, he lacks the privilege of an irrefutable identity. Things can be different. Armed with knowledge, the willing can learn more to bring about change. (Pharma Live)
  • Rising shares of U.S. adults know someone who is transgender or goes by gender-neutral pronouns: In recent years, several prominent Americans have come out as transgender or gender nonbinary (that is, identifying as neither exclusively a man nor a woman). Governments at both the federal and state levels also have moved toward putting more legal protections in place for transgender people and formally recognizing nonbinary identities. At the same time, a record number of state-level bills have sought to limit definitions of gender to the sex people are assigned at birth. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that growing shares of U.S. adults say they know someone who is transgender or who goes by a gender-neutral pronoun. Yet Americans’ comfort levels with using gender-neutral pronouns to refer to someone – as well as their opinions on whether someone’s gender can differ from the sex they were assigned at birth – have remained static. Overall, about four-in-ten Americans (42%) say they personally know someone who is transgender, up 5 percentage points since 2017. And about a quarter (26%) say they know someone who prefers that others use gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” instead of “he” or “she” when referring to them, up from 18% in 2018, the last time the question was asked. (Pew Research Center)
News from Around the World
  • Trans dad eloquently explains why he’s not sharing his baby’s assumed gender: Sav Butler, 20, a father of two from Portland, Maine, has opted for a genderless parenting style with his children to avoid imposing stereotypes based on their “assumed” gender. Having struggled with his own gender throughout his childhood, Butler hopes this approach will help his children find their “true selves” sooner and be comfortable with their identity, regardless of whether they’re cis or trans. “I’ve raised both of my children genderless until they can tell me what their gender is themselves,” he explained. “I’m not raising them non-binary because that is a gender identity as well, and the whole point is to not give them a gender identity. “I don’t want them to be referred to as something they’re not and have their memories end up being bad, I just want them to know that they are accepted. It will also make them understand more about different identities and help them to find themselves quicker.” What genderless parenting looks like in practice, Butler says, is allowing children to wear the clothes want and choose the activities they love “because they love them, not because it fits their assumed gender at birth”. (Yahoo UK)
  • Forget Gender-Neutral Fashion. Chinese Men Want Women’s Clothes: In the realm of gender-fluid fashion, women wearing men’s clothes have always been more dominant than their opposite. Drawn to their oversized fits, women have long been using “boyfriend” jeans and shirts to add chic to their wardrobe. But today, the growing number of Chinese male fashionistas wearing women’s clothes is reversing the narrative. From celebrities to grassroots influencers, many Chinese men are increasingly shopping for womenswear. Actor Wang Yibo, who was announced as Chanel’s brand ambassador this June, epitomizes the genderless chic becoming popular in China’s fashion community. Referred to as a man that “incarnated Chanel (人间香奈儿),” Wang has worn the brand’s iconic womenswear in TV shows and on magazine covers to exalt a fashion-forward look that defies gendered expectations. For example, he famously paired a pink Chanel jacket with a mini purse in the show Street Dance of China and wore a tweed jacket to a red carpet event held by Tencent. Not only did Wang’s outfits normalize womenswear for men, but they have also inspired women, who find his looks surprisingly cool for a classical brand like Chanel. Wang is just one of the many male Chinese idols setting a new normal for men’s fashion. Tiffany and Armani Beauty’s spokesperson Jackson Yee wore a Chanel women’s tweed overall to wear to the Grammy’s in 2018. Then, actor Li Xian, the spokesperson of Ermenegildo Zegna, attended a 2019 Vogue party in a Chanel coat from its 2018 womenswear collection. Cai Xukun, Prada’s muse and ambassador since 2019, frequently wears the brand’s women’s suits to red carpet events. And on Weibo, the hashtag #MaleCelebrityInWomenwear is an active thread, with over 150 million views and 320 thousand posts. (Jing Daily)
  • The Met ‘considers plans to introduce gender-neutral uniforms’: The Metropolitan Police - Britain’s biggest force - is considering plans to introduce gender-neutral uniforms, it has been reported. The force is consulting its 30,000 officers on the current uniform and what changes should be made in future. Sources claim the force could be in breach of the 2010 Equality Act by not providing separate uniforms for non-binary and gender-fluid officers, the Sun reports. The Metropolitan Police - Britain’s biggest force - is considering plans to introduce gender-neutral uniforms, it has been reported. The force is consulting its 30,000 officers on the current uniform and what changes should be made in future. Sources claim the force could be in breach of the 2010 Equality Act by not providing separate uniforms for non-binary and gender-fluid officers, the Sun reports. The officer suggested that the Met should provide uniform items that are neither male nor female. Meanwhile, equality campaigner Peter Tatchell suggested there should be one uniform for all, telling the newspaper: ‘Separate uniforms for officers is a legacy of the sexist past.’ The current uniform features helmets, flat caps and ties for men while women are expected to wear cravats and bowler hats. The Met said the contract with its current uniform supplier is due to expire in 2023 and that they are reviewing what changes needed to be made when a new contract is signed.The decision could have wider implications on other organisations including the armed forces and other public bodies. Last year, a gender-fluid engineer who was branded ‘IT’ by colleagues at Jaguar Land Rover was awarded £180,000 after winning a landmark discrimination case. Rose Taylor, 43, was teased and harassed at the car manufacturer after she began identifying as gender fluid/non-binary in 2017. An employment tribunal heard how she suffered insults and abusive jokes at the hands of co-workers after she started wearing women’s clothes. (Daily Mail UK)
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

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