As the decades have progressed less and less so are there the same societal expectations for gender stereotyping. In 2016 there has been a vast improvement in the sense that the previously set barrier between girls and boys is gradually fading. The introduction of many gender neutral clothing stores and brands means both genders are able to freely express themselves without sticking to the old fashioned, supposedly ‘typical,’ guidelines linking girls to the colour pink and boys to blue.
A prime example of this change is highlighted within the fashion industry, International runway shows and catwalk models for designer brands such as ‘Burberry’and ‘Ralph Lauren’ have recently hit the headlines for their examples of androgynous models and outfits.This runway walk in 2016s ‘London fashion week’ provides a prime example for a lack of regard for typical gender norms. Although this change may not seem blatantly obvious the stereotypical “femininity” of these outfits can be pointed out easily. Although of course some may argue that the lack of dresses or skirts, arguably what may be considered the most ‘feminine’ outfit choice, isnt present within this catwalk, the sense of androgyny and therefore in many senses equality still applies.This blending of both feminine and masculine style with low cut tops, pink jumpers and sheep wool lined leather jackets provides a strong message within the media that a specific colour, style of clothing or brand does not necessarily have to define gender.In many ways the media portrays the modelling industry as having a negative effect on teens in society,perhaps giving an unrealistic view of body image or facial structure, It generally tends to ignore some of the positive messages it chooses to promote. With both a male and female audience attending these fashion shows its important that runway fashion applies to both and isnt just aimed at one specific ideal to fit one specific gender. By subtly merging this fashion to meet the needs of both genders effectively puts men and women on an equal level, there is no obvious stand out feature that means typically an outfit is only suitable for on specific gender resulting in a sense of freedom and equality for all.
With an increase in the number of androgynous models, both male and female, for well known brands and companies the younger generation now have idols they are able to lookup to without gender necessarily being the greatest determining factor.Fashion is gradually changing in a way that means girls are no longer expected to wear dresses and heels for a formal situation, or boys a fitted suit, it is slowly becoming more of a choice rather than a set social convention. Some of the models that have helped inspire these changes are featured on Buzz Feed’s ‘8 Androgynous catwalk models’ and include the likes of Erika Linder, Agyness Deyn, David Chiang and Jana Knauerova.
ERIKA LINDER UNIQUE MODELS / VIA UNIQUE.DK
DAVID CHIANG PHOTO BY DANIEL KING FOR L’OFFICIEL HOMMES / VIA MODELS.COM
ANA KNAUEROVA PHOTO BY RAFAEL STAHELIN FOR HARPER’S BAZAAR SPAIN / VIA MODELS.COM
PHOTO 2 BY JASON KIM BY PF MAGAZINE / VIA MODELS.COM
These models break so many typical gender norms and stereotypes when it comes to the fashion industry and in many ways for society as a whole. They help inspire change and may spread the important message that a clothing choice doesn’t have to define a person or a gender.The absence of stand out colours such as pink and blue which typically are linked to either boys or girls mean a direct judgement (either intentionally or subconsciously) generally just doesn’t occur.
So often shops are split into two floors, one specifically for men and one for women. This leaves a lack of choice when it comes to outfits, not only is the style of clothing completely different but generally so is the colour and fit. Not many feel confident enough to break free from norms and shop in the section where they feel comfortable rather than where they feel they should do.
With the influence of so many gender non conforming individuals in society its no longer out of the ordinary for a person to express themselves with their clothing, regardless of gender or norms. Although still perhaps critiqued within this society there is no doubting that this is a step forward within the ever changing fashion world.