Meet the Designers Leading the Gender-Neutral Fashion Movement

By Michael KasianLast Updated Apr 2, 2020 5:30:05 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

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 Magazine that her athleisure brand, Ivy Park, will release its own line of gender-neutral sportswear. If Beyoncé’s endorsement wasn’t a big enough sign of the times, Merriam-Webster dictionary declared "they" as one of 2019’s words of the year. The pronoun saw a 313% increase in definition searches in the last year, indicating people are indeed curious about the world outside of the gender binary.

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As always, the creatives in the fashion world have had their finger on society’s pulse for quite some time. 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 looking for 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 male and female clothing. The possibilities for what gender-neutral fashion can accomplish are just scratching the surface, and these brands are leading the way.

One DNA

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.

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Photo Courtesy: One_DNA/Twitter

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.

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Re-Inc

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.

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Photo Courtesy: @re__inc/Twitter

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.

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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.

Nununu

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.

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Photo Courtesy: @nelliestirs/Twitter

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."

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Mancandy

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.

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Photo Courtesy: @MANCANDYTwitter

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.

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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.