Unisex, a cultural mirror

Posted 06/03/15 by Sarita Pannekoek

Today’s emerging and established designers are experimenting with unisex fashion. Womenswear has traditionally been whimsical, full of frills and curves, representing femininity. Designers are now removing the details differentiating womenswear from menswear. Unisex is about how you feel as a person, free from gender. Clothes can transform the way you feel and the way you react in society. Through this blogpost we explore the different interpretations of unisex design, not only in fashion, but also in packaging and interior design.

One of the pioneers of unisex fashion is Rei Kawakubo, starting at Comme des Garcons in the 70s, she designed her first womenswear collection with the message ‘dress like the boys’. Since then she continued deconstructing traditional silhouettes and playing with gendered conventions of style and design. 

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Rad Hourani
Rad Hourani started his Unisex collections in 2007, since then he has become one of the pioneers of Unisex design. “Unisex is a way of being free of any limitation, unisex does not just define the elimination of gender; it’s also age, race, religion, any boundary that can divide people. You can be whatever you want in a garment that you can adapt to any style you would like to adopt.” 

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 “Unisex is like a cultural mirror, it shows what is currently happening in society and what’s in the air. The world is moving towards equality and human sincerity, not differentiating society into genders, orientations or races.” - Sarah Weston, SJW.

More than just about the way you dress, unisex is about gender equality. We are closing the gap between masculine and feminine and gender is not a strong classification anymore. 79% of Millennials believe that gender roles have blurred (Protein Gender Report). This cultural change is not only seen in fashion, but also represented and supported in packaging design. 

Basik
"Packaging design is our first interaction with a product and it currently perpetuates gender stereotypes. Designing gender-neutral packaging will encourage gender equality and will create a more sustainable world." - Saana Hellsten, designer of Basik.

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Visually, unisex is minimal, but also experimental, with sculptural shapes and symmetry. Unisex brands like Rad Hourani, but also Hood by Air, Comme des Garçons and Anne Demeulenmeester often choose muted colours, designing a piece that is adoptable to your personal style, like a blank canvas. Unisex has no details or embellishments and therefor is ageless and timeless. 

Prada AW’15 show
Expressing a unisex style in interior design is seen at Prada’s AW 15 menswear show. The minimal look is strong, high in contrast and full of symmetry.  The optical illusion creating infinity is a beautiful interpretation of the timelessness in unisex clothing.

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Ann Demeulenmeester, Hong Kong
Ann Demeulenmeester is a Belgium fashion designer, part of the Antwerp 6. Inspired by androgynous singer Patti Smith and painter Jackson Pollock, she stays true to her distinctive and instantly recognizable style. Her stores are a great example of the Unisex style, as seen in the Hong Kong store, the design is minimal in both colours and design, creating a strong but simple atmosphere, with a focus on the products.  

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Dust Relux, Melbourne
Dust Relux is a multi-sensory label and concept store. They sell not only unisex clothing, but also the store’s signature unisex fragrance. The architecture is timeless, symmetric and high in contrast, creating an open transparent structure that is adapting to the style of the garments shown. 

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Unisex is a cultural mirror of what is happening in our society right now. In the future, hopefully this will contribute to a more gender-equal society. 

Tagged:Fashion, Prada, Unisex, Rad Hourani, Comme des Garcons, Packaging design, Basik, Ann Demeulenmeester, Dust Relux, Retail design

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