While designers have become more bold in mixing and matching, putting feminine looks on masculine frames during New York Fashion Week and beyond, genderless fashion in the mainstream still skews very casual.
The collaboration, linked to the German e-commerce giant’s private label men’s brand Yourturn, borrowed some of the boldness of the runway when it launched on Friday.
“This is a fall launch, it has nothing to do with LGBTQ idenity,” Phluid founder Rob Smith told WWD. “It’s all about self expression and breaking the binary.”
It’s also about getting out and partying with looks intended to show up on the street or in the club instead of lounging about.
Smith said the accessibly priced collection was designed by the Zalando team with input from Phluid, which offered feedback on everything from product to the language used to promote it.
“We have minimized femininity,” Smith said of society in general. “Elevating masculinity — and to see a woman in masculine clothes — is a proven thing. But to see a man in feminine, expressive clothes makes you wonder, ‘Why would you do that?’
“When you think about masculinity, you think about power, about influence, about assertiveness, you think about courage,” Smith said. “Femininity is associated with compassion, empathy, nurturing, sensitivity, and we don’t place enough emphasis on the importance of these qualities. When you find the balance between masculine and feminine, it’s really rich.”
The collection — which notably is not tied to Pride Month, when many brands choose to weigh in on gender identity — both searches for that balance and furthers Zalando’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
Bren Wong, team lead design for private label men’s and genderless in Zalando’s textile, footwear and accessories business, said: “We intend to challenge gender-specific market trends, dissolving the men versus women fashion norms. The capsule offers silhouettes such as skin-tight, cropped, asymmetric-cutouts, flowy and sheer qualities that tend to typecast to womenswear. We aim to create an open space for more conversation and experimentation — empowering our customers to express themselves freely and feel confident in their skins.”