Should Gender Neutrality be Distended to the Runways?

There have been some major changes with fashion weeks in the past couple of years as a result of many fashion houses attempting to keep up with the times and host combined men’s and women’s shows during the main ready-to-wear fashion month. Of course, in the past couple of years we have seen many fashion houses begin this process of combining menswear and womenswear into one runway show. Burberry was the first “big name company” to make the drastic change of having a genderless show in late 2016, and now it appears that most places are following suit. But does this mean that the end is near for men’s fashion weeks?

Mixed-gender shows have many advantages for fashion houses, including the basic, logical things such as simplifying the organisation process and avoiding the hefty costs of holding two separate fashion shows. It also makes sense due to the fact that most designers’ collections for menswear and womenswear belong to the same theme, and the same ideas have provided the basis for both collections. So in terms of creativity and the designers’ creative standpoint, mixed-gender shows can offer a better way to show off their creative vision. Gender neutrality is also a hugely important aspect in modern day society, so it seems only fitting that these runway shows comply with present day ideals. Who’s to say that women can’t wear men’s clothes and vice-versa? It is an extremely positive consideration that designers are adapting to the fact that preconceived gender notions are something of the past and that they understand that pieces of clothing categorised by a certain gender can be appealing to the opposite sex.

In terms of efficiency, if the fashion industry can make it work then it most definitely would make some sense to combine the two. However, there is also the issue of buyers, editors, journalists and celebrities that needs to be considered. Fashion week in New York, Milan, London and Paris are jam-packed without a full merge having taken place so where will everyone stay? There are menswear and womenswear magazines which are completely separate entities, so could this mean that fewer journalists will have to be employed by different magazines to cover a wider range of shows? Not to mention travel, will there be enough cars or taxi’s to hire? In terms of seating at the venues – who gets priority? These are few of the many questions posed that may cause organisational difficulties in the future.

Most of the big luxury fashion houses do produce both menswear and womenswear clothing, but what will be the fate of the fashion labels that are involved in the sole production of menswear clothing? It seems inevitable that the fashion industry is steering in the direction of debuting both lines together however this will definitely lead to overpopulation of the women’s fashion weeks, which are all very densely packed with shows as it is. It’s important to consider the fact that houses such as Gucci, Vetements, and Alexander Wang pull in a lot of the media attention as well as the attention of the public, so without them showcasing their menswear collection on its own and bringing in huge publicity this could lead to less issuance of menswear runway shows in general, thus meaning the end of men’s fashion weeks as we know it. Of course, that is jumping the gun just a tad as we are definitely not there just yet.

In saying this, there is also another issue that comes to mind when thinking about the decision to join men’s and women’s fashion shows. Which is that although houses may stock both menswear and womenswear, the designers of each respective line can differ. For example, in the case of Dior: Maria Grazia Chiuri is the creative director of Dior, yet Kris Van Assche is the creative director of the menswear division Dior Homme. Does this mean that if they were to combine shows they would have to select one overall creative director? Moreover, would one of the creative directors want the job of overall creative director if their vision is solely based on one gender’s clothing?

Some surprises in terms of the men’s fashion week lineup this year include Philip Plein, Topman Design and Tom Ford all disappearing from the lineup, and it hasn’t been confirmed whether they too are going coed or not.

Balenciaga, although only hopping on the menswear fashion week show bandwagon by launching their first menswear show during mens Paris fashion week in 2016, have opted to join other fashion houses in combining the two shows and showcasing it during the ready-to-wear PFW show. However, Gvasalia opted to introduce a Pre-Fall collection which was shown in men’s Paris fashion week, following in the footsteps of Dior Homme and Off-White.

JW Anderson will no longer be showcasing two separate runway shows, and Anderson’s first coed show will debut in the ready-to-wear London fashion week. Similarly, A.P.C. will also be changing to a mixed-gender show during the ready-to-wear Paris fashion week.

It will be interesting to see the fate of the menswear shows in the future, but until then lets enjoy what we’ve got while it lasts so here’s a breakdown of the key trends that have been found in this years Autumn/Winter 2018 runway shows.


Shannon Doherty – Fashion Editor

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