This is a classic, romantic scene: a woman gets up from her bed and puts on her boyfriend’s or husband’s white shirt. She instantly looks stylish and sexy. The covetable borrowable type also includes men’s blazers. This scenario led to the creation of the term “boyfriend fit”, which was presumably a clever marketing company that had a jean or similar product to sell to the opposite gender.
This isn’t a story about fashion changing genders, but I digress. While men’s clothes worn by women have been around for a while, womenswear designers are now launching menswear under their own names. These brands had less chance of success if they sounded feminine or were named after female designers. If they ventured into menswear, it was a commercial success. This is not the case anymore.
Stella McCartney and Isabel Marant are just a few of the many designers who have or will launch menswear for the AW22 season.
McCartney and other designers see menswear as an extension of the brand’s women’s collection. The Stella Woman is the inspiration for their collections. Marant is the leading purveyor of Parisian boho fashion. The brand’s nonchalant philosophy was easy to translate into menswear. Think cozy mohair sweaters and utility separates with patchwork contrasts.
Menswear must have a masculine identity and name
Only a decade ago, a man’s wardrobe was identified with a masculine name or a gender neutral one in order to succeed. Only brand perception was important. Lululemon’s womenswear logo, which is reminiscent of a woman’s hairstyle, would not have passed the test of masculinity. The company was still quietly selling its favorite product, yoga pants, to men. Lululemon had already begun to sell its branded products to men, even before it was officially divided into menswear.
Fashion is changing the way we think about traditional clothing. Gucci has been a major influencer of the zeitgeist since its debut collection under Alessandro Michele.
Retailers are now embracing a paradigm shift in the gender directives
John Lewis in the UK abolished the ‘boys’ and ‘girls labels on its childrenswear. H&.M introduced a unisex line of denim in March 2017. Selfridges launched Agender in March 2017, a pop-up fashion store that focuses on a future without gender. Faye Toogood, the designer of the retail space, stated that Selfridges had set out to create a place where women and men could shop together without regard for their gender and that they would pick clothes based on their individuality.
Gender neutrality is not the ultimate goal
This is not to suggest that McCartney or Celine, or any other womenswear label, shouldn’t create men’s collections with the end customer in mind, a man. McCartney’s first collection was not a huge success. Selling-thrus proved difficult due to brand perception, McCartney’s womenswear reputation, and the fact that the collection didn’t immediately resonate with customers. A designer who has a lot of popularity in one market, such as womenswear, doesn’t necessarily translate into another. We should judge a garment based on its fit, proportion, shape, price, quality, fabric, and trend just as we judge a brand.
Designers are defined by the products they create, not the gender of the customers who purchase them. McCartney’s menswear was presented at Paris Fashion Week. The garments were described by McCartney as “softly constructed classic and timeless pieces that can be worn both in a woman’s and man’s wardrobe.” Whatever one’s sensibility, clothes that are easy to wear and thoughtfully considered at all levels can be a great choice. Or, it can be a matter of supply and need.