(Champagne, 2019)

The Collins dictionary defines the nonbinary as “relating to a gender or sexual identity that does not belong to the binary categories of male or female, heterosexual or homosexual.” Non-binary fashion is the fashion of the nonbinary but not limited to the nonbinary individuals. Non-Binary Fashion is the art of dressing in the way the person wants to.  It is moving away from the conventional dressing ways of masculine and feminine styles. Non-binary fashion is also known as genderqueer fashion or non-conforming fashion (Krischer, 2019). The fashion industry is largely shaped by the societal principles of how a man and a woman should dress and be portrayed in the media. The non-binary fashion takes a leap and creates the shift in these heteronormative dynamics, solidifying that labels are created and not born. It further states that gender is fluid and so can be fashion. 

Contents

1 The Non-Binary Fashion

2 Rise of the Non-Binary Fashion

3 Fluidity of Fashion: A Way of Living

4 Non-Binary Fashion Brands

The Non-Binary Fashion

The non-binary fashion is mostly famous among individuals who identify as genderqueer, non-binary, or gender non-confirming. This style of fashion goes beyond identifying certain colors and shapes to particular sex and gender.  The fashion experiments with fabrics and colors on different types of bodies and does not limit to the limitations of the gendered clothing. The non-binary fashion is characterized by the choice of not confirming to the gender norms. This fashion aims to redefine femininity and masculinity. 

Billy Porter, a star of the FX show stated that, “we’ve moved from women wearing pants being a bad thing. Now it’s actually gone so far in the other direction and is considered so normal. But if you put a man in a dress, (people think) it’s disgusting. “Like, what are we saying? That has to change. It doesn’t mean anything; it’s expression. The conversation I am trying to have is to push that” (Hornik, 2019). Sky Cubacub says, “Clothing is for humans, not genders” (Hornik, 2019). It is not just the genderqueer individuals or those who identify as non- confirming believe that clothing should blur the bridge between the men and women’s section, a lot other brands such as H&M, Zara, Gucci, and Prada have also begun offering unisex clothing, have men models wear feminine clothes (Hornik, 2019). Likewise, many fragrances too are cutting this edge and creating gender fluid fragrances, as Calvin Klein, Victor & Rofl. Jo Malone. 

Rise of The Non-Binary Fashion

While dressing in a non-conforming way has a historical element, in today’s time the non-binary fashion is largely recognized by the queer community. Then non-binary fashion is not just a component of fashion, it is personal, and political. This style of fashion is tied to movements, to identity, recognition and agency. Clothing in itself manifests an agenda, the non-binary clothing being powerful, life-changing, personal, as well as questioning and worrying (Rasmussen, 2019). 

=Judith Butler, in her book “Gender Trouble”, wrote about gender being fluid and performative. She explained that is a phenomenon or behavior is repeated often, then those behaviors start being the norm (Nurick, 2019). It holds true in the fashion world, where clothes get repeated, masculine-feminine traits gets into the fashion of the binary’s world but labelled as “skinny jeans” for men, and “boyfriend jeans” for women. The non-binary fashion already exists, even within the rigid men’s and women’s section but in the veil of its own acceptance. The non-binary fashion is here just to drop the veil, so that fashion no more has to be accepted within the binary framework. 

Fluidity of Fashion: A Way of Living

=Private is political, in movements, in gaining recognition and in achieving agency. Fashion is a platform to achieve that agency for many individuals. Nonbinary gender queers have for decades identified with the non-binary fashion. Some of the individuals are quoted and listed hereby, who have been shaped by the non-binary fashion.

Kai Isaiah Jamal states, “Most days, I wear workwear. For me, workwear is the one style that has a really timeless and genderless feel to it” (Rasmussen, 2019).

Travis Alabanza writes in their Instagram, “From a young age, I used fashion and style as a way to make bold assertions against pressures I was feeling. Male clothes, expectations, pressures, and the heavy gendering on my body (without my consent) that I was feeling when going into adolescence, forced me to find style in order to find autonomy” (Rasmussen, 2019).

Elouiza May expresses, “From the floral blue dress in the dressing up box at playgroup, to the rose gold chainmail dress I wore Monday night, style accentuates the femininity I have always possessed” (Rasmussen, 2019).

I identify as genderqueer, and I’m not represented in fashion,” Owens-Reid. “Anyone can wear a dress, anyone can wear trousers, anyone can wear a tee, anyone can wear a leopard-print jacket. Fashion is meant for all of us; ergo, we should all be represented in fashion” (Hornik, 2019).

The non-binary fashion is not a capitalist tactic to make money through colors, fabrics and orientation, it is a language of expression, a way of living. 

Non-Binary Fashion Brands

While the label of “nonbinary” is new in fashion, non-binary way of clothing is not. In a time where we vouch for inclusiveness, mainstream clothing stores still sperate the men and women clothing sections, making it difficult and unaccepted for the genderqueer individuals. However, there are genderqueer and non-genderqueer designers trying to make an attempt to bridge this gap in clothing and making clothing available to individuals of all gender identities. 

Some of the fashion brands working towards achieving inclusion are hereby (Wicker, 2020):

  1. NO SESSO: They use different fabrics and materials to fit different bod types.
  2. SKY CUBACUB: Design clothes for people of different sizes, races, abilities and identities.
  3. LACHER PRISE: Creates multi-functional designs
  4. OLDER BROTHER: Unisex and ecofriendly.
  5. ONE 432: Defies gender norms and creates clothing as such 
  6. COSMOS STUDIO: Uses raw, organic materials for all genders.
  7. NUDIE JEANS: Jeans for everyone.
  8. BIG BUD: Jumpsuits made for individuals of all identities and sizes. 
  9.  

Suggested List of Reading

Gender bending Fashion. https://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/gender-bending-fashion

The Rise of Nonbinary Fashion. https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2019/11/20/rise-nonbinary-fashion-photo-essay/?arc404=true

What Does It Mean To ‘Look’ Non-Binaryhttps://www.refinery29.com/en-us/non-binary-fashion

References_____________________________________________________________________

Champagne, C. (2019, June 20). Designing Gender-Non-Conforming Clothes That Stand Out. Retrieved from https://magenta.as/designing-gender-non-conforming-clothes-that-stand-out-d1d1fb6fad98

Hornik, S. (2019, May 2). Gender-fluid clothing is finally having its fashion moment. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/fashion/la-ig-gender-neutral-fashion-20190502-story.html

Krischer, H. (2019, August 14). Beyond Androgyny: Nonbinary Teenage Fashion. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/style/nonbinary.html

Nurick, J. (2019, October 25). Know no bounds: 6 non-binary designers pushing fashion forward. Retrieved from https://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/know-no-bounds-6-nonbinary-designers-pushing-fashion-forward/news-story/e8c4a890cc5b7bb3f1b70e3734b42aa7

Rasmussen, T. (2019, January 16). Eight trans and non-binary people on personal style. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/style/article/trans-non-binary-style-dazed-digital/index.html

Wicker, A. (2020, January 28). 10 Non-Binary Sustainable & Ethical Fashion Brands That Don’t Care About Your Gender. Retrieved from https://ecocult.com/non-gender-binary-sustainable-ethical-fashion-brands/


Astha Bhandari is a graduate student at Old Dominion Universityin the Applied Sociology Program with a concentration in Women’s Studies. She has a Bachelor of Arts in the Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. She also works as a graduate assistant at the Women’s Center. You will find her sitting quietly, passing gentle smiles across the room. She is not too vocal, but she loves to write. She admires the non-binary fashion!