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Generation Genderless - Issue #8

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
How the Fashion Industry Can Design a More Inclusive Future
This past year has indeed been transformative as the world confronted racism, hoping to break the systemic oppression experienced by underrepresented and underserved communities. At the same time, the wide-reaching and disproportionate impacts of the pandemic underscored the vulnerability of these communities. This has been a time of reckoning for corporate America. Industries have had to look in the mirror and face the lack of representation, opportunities, and support for minorities in their ranks. The fashion industry was no exception.
Fashion is a high-visibility business that may influence popular culture but has historically missed the mark in representing the country’s diversity at all levels of its workforce.
I have led the Council of Fashion Designers of America since 2006, currently serving as its CEO. Before, my work was specific to HIV programming with MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation and the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. As a gay college student mapping out my future career, I deliberately chose not to work in corporate America. Rather, I pursued work in nonprofit organizations where I thought my values and personality would be better aligned.
While I found a place of belonging, mentors, and allies along the way, no matter the work environment, I still found myself working alongside others unlike me. At each stage, there were situations where I experienced a lack of respect and acceptance because I was gay. Whether it was vendors, donors, or colleagues in the C-suite, I needed to focus on my self-confidence. It was a reminder that my contributions mattered and were equal to those of heterosexuals. It also required businesses and individuals to support, accept, and value people different from them.
At CFDA, I have begun to witness a long-overdue change in fashion. People at all levels of the industry are increasingly tuned in to the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion. We need to ensure a work environment of different cultures, values, and experiences, with guaranteed seats at the table for those unheard.
Much of the movement on equality centers on race and gender, and rightfully so. The CFDA and PVH Corp. recently released a report, “The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Fashion.” The study found that 60 percent of respondents thought their employers had implemented measurable actions to be more inclusive. Four out of five believed these actions to be nonperformative. Interestingly, though, 26 percent of people of color still thought their race prevented career advancement. As suspected, at the C-suite level, over half of executive roles and just under three out of four board positions are occupied by white men. People of color fill only 16 percent of executive functions and 15 percent of board seats.
CFDA is working to change that with IMPACT, a new program that identifies, connects, supports, and nurtures Black and brown creatives and professionals in fashion. The program furthers CFDA’s mission to advance American fashion by including diverse talent in every facet of the industry’s ecosystem. A fundamental component of IMPACT is a talent directory powered by the job platform Creatively.
Despite the stereotypes of fashion as inclusive for LGBTQ+ employees (especially cisgender gay men), the data from the CFDA and PVH report found otherwise: 18 percent of LGBTQ+ employees report that they would not recommend that others like them apply for a job in the fashion industry. LGBTQ+ employees say there is greater inaccessibility to the fashion industry for them than for straight employees.
LGBTQ+ employees report a high rate (65 percent) of experiencing microaggressions. These include the questioning of their competence, hearing insulting or disrespectful remarks about them or people they like, and feeling like they can’t talk about their lives outside of work.
There are multiple types of barriers for LGBTQ+ team members. A Black lesbian, for example, has fewer opportunities available to her than a white male counterpart. Layer in her sexual identity, and she must work even harder to succeed. Intersectionality holds for many queer people working in fashion.
Firsthand, I have seen gay colleagues in fashion dismissed as unserious and called frivolous because of the way they dress. I have heard comments from fashion leaders disparaging trans designers as “not real designers” or claiming collections should be divided by gender and that nonbinary collections are irrelevant. (Read More on OUT)
Wrangler Parent CEO Says Apparel Industry Should Prepare for ‘Global Casualization’
Corporate dress codes, whether written or unwritten, are changing. Look at places like fast-food restaurants and airlines, which have traded one-size-fits-all uniform policies for more flexible options that allow employees to purchase different pieces to create more original outfits that still fit within the company’s branding.
For office workers, the pandemic has caused a tremendous change in the way we dress. A year or more of working from home has changed the way we think about dressing for work, shifting the workplace attire norms to be more casual.
Scott Baxter, president, and CEO of Kontoor Brands, the parent company of Lee and Wrangler jeans, said that this “global casualization” is here to stay, and apparel companies need to pay attention.
“People are going to dress more casual and comfortable,” Baxter told CNBC. “They’re very confident in denim and T-shirts, and they feel like it’s an expression, too. After being home for a year and a half, nobody wants to update their wardrobe to a really high-dress wardrobe.”
During the height of the pandemic, athleisure products like sweatpants and yoga pants were in high demand. For promotional products, companies went all-in on loungewear and things to get comfy in.
For the return to the office, whenever that happens, obviously sweatpants likely still won’t fly, but jeans and T-shirts are becoming more acceptable as workwear, as we rethink the formal nature of going to work.
“We did a survey of a bunch of our consumers, and found that 84% of the people are going to upgrade their wardrobe, and a lot of that is going to be in the casual sector,” Baxter said. “Denim is going to actually be a big winner there, but so will T-shirts and some more different apparel likings from a casual standpoint. We’re positioned really, really well with that casualization globally.”
That casualization isn’t fully the result of the pandemic. You don’t see people wearing suits to baseball games anymore, after all. But it did act as a catalyst to maybe speed things up to an inevitable ending where T-shirts and jeans are in even higher demand as clothes for both work and play.
And while work-from-home policies are still in place, casual apparel companies are going even more casual. Levi’s, for example, recently announced that it is acquiring yoga apparel brand Beyond Yoga. Levi’s hopes the move will bring in more than $100 million in total sales revenue for the 2022 fiscal year, according to Quartz.
Beyond T-shirts, jeans, and yoga pants, companies that might have required shirts and ties might now allow polo shirts, half-zip fleece jackets, or short-sleeve button-ups. For companies still requiring collared shirts, maybe they now allow shirts meant to be worn untucked. All of these casual options still have space for branding to fit in with corporate aesthetics. (Read More on Promo Marketing)
SS22: 5 gender-neutral trends to keep an eye on
Though many brands still present their women’s and men’s wear collections separately at two different shows, a lot of trends tend to overlap and suit both wardrobes.
For the Resort and Spring-Summer 2022 seasons, designers offer a large array of trends that do not fit in a gender category, highlighting a growing tendency to let go of labels. FashionUnited analyses five gender-neutral trends that’ll be leading the way next season.
The tank top
The tank top has been a wardrobe staple for both men and women for decades, but it’ll be particularly ubiquitous next summer. From ribbed knits to oversized cuts, the styles are endless and can easily be dressed up or down. Although, what’s been catching our eye is that most designs will work both for men and women alike. At Courrèges, we’ve seen a fishnet top that’ll work well worn on its own or layered, at Dhruva Kapoor, it was all about metallic textures and colourful details while at Dolce & Gabbana, the timeless white tank was all the rage. Vetements showcased a flower iteration and Atlein a silky orange one. For its Resort 2022 collection, Christian Wijnants presented a knitted black, white and green version. Their common point? They’ll all seamlessly blend in both women’s and men’s closets.
The oversized blazer
Blazers are a surefire way to create an outfit from scratch, and they’ll be particularly oversized for Spring-Summer 2022. Men’s and women’s designs have a similar look, the only difference being the size they’re cut in. Alberta Ferretti opted for a safari-inspired brown version whereas French label AMI Paris presented an entire collection based on double- or single-breasted blazers cut in large proportions. At Balenciaga, volumes are always exaggerated, so it comes as no surprise that jackets come in extravagant shapes. Comme Des Garçons Homme Plus showcased a white iteration finished with fringes, COOL ™* chose a bright red one and The Row showed an extra-long design.
The midi skirt
The midi skirt will be in full swing next summer - in women’s and men’s wardrobes alike. Although it has already made a timid appearance in menswear collections in the past, Spring-Summer 2022 will be the season of democratisation. We’ve seen a pleated pinstripe version at Thom Browne, paired with a matching blazer, as well as a paired-back printed beige one at Sean Suen. At Balmain, a total-black number was detailed with drawstrings. In the womenswear collections, Adeam presented a striped style and Blumarine showcased an army-green cargo-inspired one.
The bow blouse
A staple of the preppy wardrobe, the bow blouse has been a constant in the Resort and Spring-Summer 2022 collection, whether it’s in women’s or men’s collections. Saint Laurent paved the way: it showcased pussy bow blouses in many different styles and shades. Whether it’s a white timeless shirt with a gold metallic bow or a black striped one, Anthony Vaccarello has revolved its summer collection around this iconic statement. At Dunhill, a crisp button-down was topped off with an oversized cardigan detailed with a bow brooch. Carolina Herrera opted for a lightweight striped option, Coach presented a checked one while Paco Rabanne displayed a printed total-look finished with a lavallière collar.
The knitted vest
Originally a menswear staple, the knitted vest has been introduced in the womenswear collections over the last couple of years and is now a go-to in both. For next summer, Tory Burch presented a preppy navy blue sleeveless sweater worn over a printed shirt and Burberry showcased a tan turtleneck version paired with a matching cardigan. In the menswear collections, a grey cable-knit vest was spotted at Robyn Lynch, a V-neck blue one at Namacheko and Dior Homme showed a classic beige iteration detailed with a graphic print. (Read More on Fashion United)
Telfar Launches the Liberia Collection, a Genderless Performance Wear Line
Last month, Telfar revealed a collection of genderless apparel for Team Liberia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With the Games having come to an end, the designer has now launched a full line dedicated to the country.
The performance range features gown-length jerseys, deconstructed tracksuits, sarong bottoms and spliced tops with details inspired by Liberia’s flag. In addition to red, white and blue, the collection is dressed in neutral shades of sand and navy. The staple silhouettes are highlighted with elements such as mesh paneling, nylon drawstrings, hidden pockets and more.
Telfar was the official sponsor for Team Liberia at the Olympics, with each item adorned with Liberia’s flag and the “TC” logo. Peep the collection in the gallery above, and head to Telfar’s website to shop the designs priced from $60 to $290 USD. (HypeBae)
Fashion Tech
The mysterious Chinese fashion app that’s as popular as Amazon
Every night before bed, Anushka Sachan whips out her phone to log into an app.
“It kind of becomes a habit,” said the 20-year-old Hong Kong University student. “Before sleeping, I’m just like, ‘Okay, check in.’”
The platform Sachan is using belongs to a Chinese brand called Shein — pronounced “She In” — which has rapidly attracted a global army of teen fans on TikTok.
The company is a mysterious online shopping upstart that has made headlines recently for surpassing Amazon (AMZN) in app downloads in the United States, and creating a cult following for its fast fashion apparel sold all over the world. Some experts even say it’s beating stalwarts like Zara and H&M at their own game, by making items more quickly and being more digitally savvy with customers.
“They’re making fast fashion look slow,” said Erin Schmidt, a senior analyst at Coresight Research, a global advisory and research firm specializing in retail and technology. “They’ve changed the model.”
Sachan checks the Shein app daily for the same reason many others do: to get points. The more you get, the more you can save on purchases. Shein awards them to customers for everything from opening the app to watching live streams and entering outfit design contests.
“It is pretty addictive,” said Sachan, describing the experience as similar to playing a mobile game.
Shein’s ability to lure users to its platform is one of its main ingredients for success, along with its hyper-fast production process, bargain basement pricing and data-driven product offerings.
“I just stopped buying from H&M when I started using Shein,” said Sachan, who often scours the site for new accessories and once scored a necklace for 9 Hong Kong dollars ($1.20).
“Because I was getting the same things that I saw at H&M, but like, for cheaper.”
A rising star
Shein was born under a different name — ZZKKO — in China, where it was started in 2008 by Chris Xu. The experience he gained as a marketing and search engine optimization consultant would later prove instrumental in creating the site’s powerful algorithm, according to Coresight Research.
At first, the company only sold wedding dresses, said Schmidt. It later branched out to general womenswear, adopting the name “Sheinside.” In 2015, the company rebranded again, saying it wanted a name that was easier to remember and search for online.
Fast forward to the pandemic, which has helped Shein generate explosive growth and become one of the few Chinese consumer brands to win global acclaim. As of last October, it was the world’s largest online-only fashion company, as measured by sales of goods under the company’s own brand, according to Euromonitor International. The research firm declined to provide further information, saying that the finding was part of a proprietary project.
Shein competes with Zara and H&M for customers who want the latest trends for less, and all three companies sell their own branded goods. But the two longtime heavyweights also run brick-and-mortar stores, cater to a wider customer base and sell at slightly higher prices.
Shein’s more direct competition comes from the likes of British fast fashion retailers Boohoo and ASOS, which concentrate most of their firepower online, target young female shoppers and tend to offer more affordable items.
In the first half of this year alone, Shein’s app racked up more than 81 million downloads around the world. In mid-May, it overtook Amazon as the most installed shopping app in the United States across the App Store and Google Play combined, according to analytics firms App Annie and Sensor Tower. (Read More on CNN)
Farm-to-fashion cotton traceability through new Retraced app - FashionUnited UK
Through its farm-to-fashion cotton traceability project with vertically integrated denim and apparel manufacturer Artistic Milliners, blockchain start-up Retraced is able to trace every single kilogram of cotton from farm to final garment. This transparency is increasingly important for the fashion industry with consumers demanding more information about the origin and journey of the products they buy.
Launched earlier this year, the project now includes 500 cotton farmers in Pakistans Rahim Yar Khan region in Punjab who have been equipped with a mobile app for managing their cotton sowing, picking and shipment to track the lifecycle of cotton to the ginner. From there, the cotton can be digitally discerned into different shipments and qualities.
The tagged cotton will then be sent to the Artistic Milliners’ in-house spinning, dyeing, weaving, and cut-make-trim facility in Karachi, where it will continue to be traced via a Retraced system integration. The cotton thread is then manufactured into denim fabric and apparel for clothing brands around the world. These brands can, in turn, use the data to evaluate the apparel’s production standards and communicate the source of the clothing to their consumers. The new app will digitise processes further and make information available more quickly and efficiently. (Read More on Fashion United)
The importance of having an omnichannel solution
Fashion is an undeniably seasonal industry, with trends and styles constantly reappearing in new and different ways. However, even though garments are reimagined every few years, the sales model for the fashion industry has mostly remained the same until the rise of e-commerce and social media. The digital world has disrupted the way consumers view and interact with fashion brands and retailers for good.
Due to the wealth of information provided across various channels, from fashion websites to Instagram channels, influencer posts and targeted online advertising, consumers expect a seamless experience across each touchpoint. Brands and retailers who are unable to keep up with consumers expectations risk falling out of favour or losing them to a competitor. It’s safe to say that the global outbreak of COVID-19 only accelerated the digital shift, with over half (55.7%) of fashion sales taking place online, according to ONS, highlighting brands and retailers’ need for a solid omnichannel strategy.
“In today’s world of fashion and lifestyle, a superb omnichannel solution is indispensable,” says Cor Noorlander, Chief Commercial Officer at global fashion fulfilment service provider Modexpress. Brands and retailers who have integrated their different sales and communications channels into a leading omnichannel solution to deliver a consistent and cohesive customer experience only thrived last year. US sportswear giant Nike, who invested heavily in its digital, innovative and Nike Direct Sales channels, expanded its customer base and gained market share last year. Currently valued at $35 billion, its omnichannel approach is proof in the pudding. “However, even before the arrival of Covid-19, the availability of products via different sales channels and speed to market have been major drivers in the growth of reputable brands,” points out Noorlander.
Having direct insight into product availability across different sales channels is key to meeting and serving consumers’ needs. By using a powerful e-fulfilment solution that combines entire logistics processes, from the e-commerce platform to marketplace channels and more, brands have direct insight into their product availability at all times. This ensures brands and retailers can distribute their stock as fit. Modexpress leading e-fulfilment options provides real-time updates and an accurate overview of stock levels at all times, as well as additional insights into the turnover rate and return percentages. By optimizing existing stock, this guarantees that retailers and brands can respond to any sudden market changes and meet consumer demand across every channel.
Speed to market is another vital aspect fashion brands and retailers have to take into account. Due to the nearly instantaneous nature of online shopping, consumers expect products to arrive as quickly as possible. Thanks to its tailor-made and dedicated solutions, Modexpress manages last-mile deliveries as efficiently and effectively as possible. Brands products are seamlessly distributed via multiple channels, with Modexpress offering different outbound and returns solutions to meet customers’ changing needs. Speedy return handling is another important aspect for brands and retailers. Modexpress sorts, checks, and prepares returns for delivery via the retailer’s e-commerce platform, online marketplaces and physical stores. Serving all channels from a central warehouse, this assures low stock management costs and maximum flexibility - a win-win case for all. “For many leading fashion houses, Modexpress has developed state of the art fulfilment – and distribution solutions leading to the ongoing success stories of its customers,” adds Noorlander. (Fashion United)
79% of Gen Z students embrace buying clothes assigned to the opposite agenda, UNiDAYS reveals
Nearly eight in ten (79%) of #GenZ students are not put off by buying clothes assigned to the opposite gender and 64% have bought clothes for themselves marketed for the opposite sex, according to a new report by UNiDAYS, the world’s largest student affinity network.
Over one-third of Gen Z (37%) have spent more money on clothes during lockdown than they have pre-pandemic and over 50% have bought more fashion items in 2021 than in previous years. And alongside the demand for gender-neutral clothing rising among the demographic, sustainability is also key for Gen Z shoppers. Nearly seven in ten (68%) of Gen Z demand that their clothes are manufactured to the highest ethical standards and 57% feel brands championing sustainability, equality, and diversity are getting it right.
With Gen Z estimated to have a $200 billion annual global spend power, the report explores Gen Z’s fashion trends and preferences, their attitudes to retailers, sustainability, pricing, and more - informed by responses from our panel of more than 18k Gen Z students. (FE News.UK)
  • Addressing the Gender Inequalities in Financial Services: The gender pay gap remains a hotly discussed issue across much of the business world, and it is no secret that financial services continues to be among the industries most in need of immediate work to close this gap. The good news, however, is that there is strong evidence to suggest female- workforce participation in financial services is now growing faster than ever, particularly at the senior end. “This is the first time we can say that things are really changing. Yes, the progress in the numbers is too slow, but everyone is finally getting impatient,” Diony Lebot, deputy chief executive officer of Société Générale, was quoted as saying in the recent research publication Women In Financial Services 2020 carried out by Oliver Wyman across 468 companies in 37 countries and jurisdictions. According to the study, the financial-services industry is now making the fastest progress comparatively on increasing the number of women in senior-leadership roles since the consulting firm began measuring such trends in 2003. As of 2019, 20 percent of executive committees and 23 percent of boards were represented by women, while 26 percent of firms were made up of more than 30 percent women at the executive committee level, with this number rising to 37 percent for boards. (International Banker)
  • Superman Confirms He Supports Non-Binary Gender Identity: Superman has always been a character who supported diversity and the many groups of people that make up his adopted nation of the United States. In a new DC Comics issue, he has added his support of non-binary gender identities to the list. Throughout comic book media’s long history, Superman has always been a character who stood for justice and equality, even in ways that would not likely reflect more conservative—and possibly common—feelings at the time. The famous Superman radio broadcast “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” which was made into a comic in 2019, provides a strong example of Superman’s moral character and his historical support of minority groups who may experience adversity outside of the comic book world.(
  • 3 ways gender neutral is a big trend for baby - Motherly: Gender-neutral is a huge trend in recent years, with parents opting to choose fewer gender-specific identities and goods for their little ones.Here are 3 ways today’s parents are embracing a gender-neutral vibe: 1. Names: A study reveals that more couples are giving their children, especially their daughters, gender-neutral names like Quinn, Reese, River, Rory, Rowan, Sawyer and Taylor. 2. Nursery: Gender-neutral nurseries have been on the rise, according to Pinterest data. The website reports boy-or-girl-friendly nursery pins have spiked by 230 percent this year, with users between the ages of 25 and 34 leading the way. That makes sense, considering rooms that make more use of yellows and greens than pinks or blues could be popular among parents who opt not to learn the sex of their baby before delivery, people who envision moving future children of the opposite sex into that space, or gender-conscious mamas who just want to go with a unisex theme. 3. Gifts: More mamas are avoiding registering for uber-pink or all-blue gifts, instead opting for gender-neutral items in colors that can be passed down to future children of either sex. The rise of gender-neutral toys, no longer labeled as “boy” or “girl,” as well as organic toys made from products like wood, mean that even baby’s gear embraces a more open vibe. (
News from Around the World
  • Delta Variant Outbreaks in Sparsely Vaccinated Asian Countries Disrupt Production (Vietnam): HANOI—The highly-infectious Delta variant has shut down factories in largely unvaccinated parts of Asia, throttling supply chains and contributing to rising consumer prices at a time when many thought the worst of Covid-19 supply disruptions were in the past. A gap has formed between the demand for goods in the well vaccinated U.S. and the capacity of sparsely vaccinated manufacturing countries to meet it, building inflationary pressure. The outbreaks in Vietnam and elsewhere add to a long list of challenges—including outbreaks at ports, freight-container shortages and rising raw-material prices—that companies face in delivering goods at low cost and on time ahead of the holiday season. (WSJ)
  • Inclusive language a controversial issue among linguists (Mexico): During a recent university class held over Zoom, a young Mexican non-binary person took umbrage when one of their fellow students referred to them as compañera, the feminine word for classmate or colleague. “I’m not your compañera, I’m your compañere,” sobbed 19-year-old Andra Escamilla, using a gender-neutral term, before leaving the virtual class despite their classmate’s prompt apology. A video of the exchange turned up on social media and quickly went viral, prompting a renewed debate in Mexico about inclusive language. (Latinx is one gender-neutral term that is now frequently used in English in place of Latino or Latina, while some Latin American feminists use the neologism cuerpa to refer to their bodies rather than the correct word cuerpo, which is a masculine noun in Spanish.) One criticism that some people have of the Spanish language is that the masculine takes precedence over the feminine when one is referring to a mixed group of people, animals or things. For example, you can have a group of nine niñas, or girls, but add just one boy and all of a sudden you have a group of 10 niños. According to Georgina Barraza Carbajal, a linguist with the Mexican Academy of Language, the dominance of the masculine plural “makes people invisible.” (Read More on Mexico News Daily)
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, consider forwarding this newsletter to a friend or colleague, buying me a coffee or purchasing our merch to support Gender Inclusive Research and Design.
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Generation Genderless
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