As gender sensitivities take hold across the country, apparel brands at the recent Coterie market in New York City were quick to show they’ve been paying attention.
This year is being marked by nationwide discussions about gender-neutral bathrooms, Caitlyn Jenner’s magazine covers and sexism in the elections. No surprise that fashion’s style lines are being blurred. According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, if women attain full gender parity they could add up to $4.3 trillion in annual GDP by 2025. Unfortunately, McKinsey said it was unlikely that this would happen within a decade. In the meantime, if the women can’t get equal pay, then they can get equal clothing.
“The younger generation is becoming more gender fluid,” said Brendan Cannon, the creative director of Pluma, an Italian jewelry brand. “Jaden and Willow Smith are pushing the boundaries and they are on the front line of this trend.” Cannon mentioned The Kooples, a line at Coterie as being the prime example of the new androgyny. Their concept is to dress the pair or couple as one. The clothing styles cross the lines between men and women.
The Kooples women’s collection even has a group called “Borrowed From the Boys.” They have 247 shops in France and 36 in Britain, where they get their inspiration for style.
Another Coterie brand that crosses the aisle is Becken. Their classic men’s wear-inspired shirts follow the company’s brand pillars, which are inviting, unfussy and polished. Becken is “fashion for the grounded woman with nothing to prove.” Entrepreneur Angela Beck, who also owns the home accessory company Pomegranate Inc., founded the clothing line and debuted at Coterie earlier this year.
“I think we’re still seeing a trend that is continuing from fall,” said Gabriella Santaniello, retail expert and founder of A-Line Partners. “It’s a mix of men’s wear and ultrafeminine, like slipdresses and a men’s wear shirt.” She said there’s a lot of mixing of shapes, like wearing a big jacket over a crop top.
Tommy Hilfiger showed lots of oversized or “boyfriend-sized” varsity sweaters and mannish bomber jackets in its recent runway show. Santaniello also noted that she’s hearing that some oversized varsity style jackets are selling out. The women are taking these men’s wear styles and they are going to own them this spring.”It’s very men’s-y,” she added.