When Beyoncé shows her support for gender-neutral clothing, you know the nonbinary movement has reached a milestone. Beyoncé, an entrepreneur always in touch with the cultural zeitgeist, revealed to Elle in late 2019 that her athleisure brand, Ivy Park, would release its own line of gender-neutral sportswear. And it did, along with the help of one of the biggest sportswear giants in the biz — Adidas — while sending the message that fashion should be democratic and inclusive.
But these titans of the fashion world aren’t the only ones leading the charge for better representation. In just the last decade, innovative designers and fashion labels big and small have been breaking so-called fashion rules with new lines for anyone seeking clothes better suited to their identities. Fashion and self-expression have long been bedfellows, so it’s only natural that the industry recognizes there is so much more to clothing for people of all gender identities and expressions. The possibilities for what gender-neutral fashion can accomplish are just scratching the surface, and these brands are leading the way.
The glory of scrolling through One DNA’s online store is seeing how the designers take all the stereotypical tropes associated with romantic gendered attire and give it a modern, nonbinary twist. You’ll see romantic puffy sleeves on a satin shirt but exaggerated beyond normal convention and then dressed on a more masculine model. For someone unfamiliar with nonbinary clothing, this is a great label to start educating yourself.
The designers at One DNA intentionally break down the boundary between womenswear and menswear without sacrificing style. For anyone who thinks genderless clothing has to be drab, this clothing line sells quite the opposite aesthetic. Its co-founders, Simon Black and Travis Weaver, hope to make men feel empowered in their dresses and women in their suits.
Inclusivity to Black and Weaver expands beyond the realms of gender identity. To them, this isn’t just a trend, it’s a commitment to make stylish designs for people of all identities and sizes. Hidden zippers, detachable self-tie belts and flexible fabrics help move their mission forward while pleasing as many different nonbinary individuals as possible.
In July 2019, four former and current members of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer team launched Re-inc, their own lifestyle brand and clothing line. The stars, including 2019 athlete of the year Megan Rapinoe, are news making celebs in their own right, but they’re defying the odds in more ways than one with their sportswear.
Usually, when a famous athlete releases clothing, their threads are emblazoned with their names, similar to the sports jerseys that made them famous. But you won’t find a single “Rapinoe” on the back of any of their clothes. You won’t find any gendered clothing, either. That’s because the sports moguls embrace inclusivity and gender-neutral designs over their celebrity status.
Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg and Christen Press hope to dress their own community, meaning “individuals that courageously break normals and challenge outdated beliefs.” It’s great for such public figures to reach out to their community for support, but be mindful, their $150 hoodies and sweatpants are also reaching deep into your wallet.
Children’s clothing was long overdue for some serious reevaluation. Why is it that all modern babies are adorned in gender-defining pink and blue hues? In 2009, Nununu’s founders, Iris Adler and Tali Milchberg of Tel Aviv, Israel, were frustrated by the limitations in their own children’s wardrobes. Their line, Nununu (which is what Israeli parents say to their misbehaving children), offers a much more minimal, mature and unisex selection of clothing. It’s in hopes the children will feel less inclined to fall in line with Tonka trucks and Barbie dolls and wear clothing that helps them explore their own identities.
While they do have sections of clothes for boys and girls, they also make sure that any of their designs could be worn by kids seeking something more unisex. While you won’t find fussy pink tutus with flowers, you will find skirts that could be worn by any child. Nununu makes sure to use minimal adult designs and black, white or other neutral colors that encourage kids to feel comfortable in whatever they choose.
Their clothing line has gotten some serious support from fashion industry icons. Items are sold in Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue and are regularly worn by the likes of Steph Curry’s and Gwen Stefani’s families. In 2018, Nununu partnered with music and fashion superstar Celine Dion to launch Célinununu, a genderless line of clothing for all ages. Together with Dion, they hope their new collaboration “enables younger people to grow on values of equality with the freedom to strengthen their own power of personality based on mutual respect.”
Art, fashion and emotions are one in the same in Mexico. The country’s next generation of artists, like Andres Jimenez’ “Mancandy,” explores identity in creative ways that are turning heads in the fashion industry. Jimenez takes the common silhouettes found in menswear and makes them available for anyone, while adding Latin American influences and sex appeal.
The clothes are baggy, cutting-edge additions to the world of genderless streetwear. His dedication to continuously pushing the envelope in the genderless movement has earned him accolades from VOGUE México & Latinoamérica as well as from musicians Lana Del Rey and Iggy Azalea, who show their support for the label. It makes sense, given their shared musical interests.
Always exploring creative pursuits, Jimenez also incorporates his quest to value unique identities into the music space. As Mancandy, the singer and entertainer, his music has an urban style and a message of empowering anyone who isn’t afraid of being different. And, of course, his music videos naturally include people of all shapes and sizes wearing his clothing.
Gender neutral doesn’t have to be neutral — at least not when it comes to color palettes, patterns and prints. Bearing illustrations of curious critters and fun faces that’d look just as at home in the pages of an Ed Emberley book as they can (and rightfully should) on a pair of overalls, Yuk Fun’s clothes are decidedly everyone-friendly when it comes to cut and fit.
The line (which is certainly more fun than yuck) run by design duo Lucy Cheung and Patrick Gildersleeves features silhouettes inspired by a peculiar combination of classic workwear pieces and pajamas — think dungarees, trousers, sweatshirts and chore coats — done up in crisp organic cotton. But the real pizzazz shows up in the brand’s signature wild prints. Each one is a kaleidoscopic, Where’s Waldo?-style design that’s bright and bold and totally playful, giving you the opportunity to, as Yuk Fun’s website so eloquently puts it, “say it without saying it.”
Another great thing about the brand’s site? Its inclusive message is loud, clear and visible. Clothes are categorized by style, not gender, and models in a beautiful range of shapes, sizes, skin tones and gender expressions show off each piece with a whole lotta joy.