Friday, 11 March 2016

ZARA (NOT THAT) UNGENDERED


Hi everyone! Today's post is probably going to be a really chatty one, and not your usual outfit post or product review. I wanted to talk about a collection that has launched earlier this week, one that has caused quite the stir on the webz, and one that a lot of people have a lot of opinions over. All this suspense-building might be quite useless because of the title that states which collection I am talking about, but still: it's all about the new 'Ungendered' line high-street mogul Zara has launched on Monday. Gender has been, still is and always will be one of my favourite subjects to read/research/write about, and it obviously is one that lays close to my heart.

As the first headlines popped up on my news feed, my initial reaction was one of excitment, of course. A high-street giant like Zara that brings out a line of non-binary fashion is an amazing opportunity and platform for other gender identities to be heard and seen by a large (mainstream) audience. Zara's influence is, roughly put, one not to f*ck with, and the effect they can have on how the peepz in the streets perceive different/newer gender identities can hardly be underestimated. 
It wasn't until I clicked the links and more details about the collection dropped in, that my mood downed a little. As I scrolled through the pics of the collection, I was quite deceived by the overall feel of the collection. No, I am not over the moon with Zara Ungendered, and let me break down why. 

First of all, let's talk about the clothes themselves. Take a look for yourself if you haven't already, and please, contradict me if you think I am wrong, but to me, the whole collection looks like a gathering of oversized loungewear pieces that men wear on a daily, and the kind of pieces that women go find at the men's department of their favourite store already. And, above that, in current fashion, lots of brands or shops (like Urban Outfitters) actually have those kinds of clothes in store, for women as well as men, and they don't necessarily feel the need to brand those items (which look quite alike, by the way, see for yourself here and here or here and here) as 'ungendered'. 
Which makes me wonder: is Zara actually a huge people pleaser that only wants to get a piece of the pie? (The pie in question being the ungoing gender-related discussion in the fashion scene.) I don't want to be a Debbie Downer here, but fact is; non-binary gender identity has been a hot topic for the last year. From Miley Cyrus coming out as gender-fluid, over Jaden Smith modelling womenswear for Vuitton, to the spotlight on the transgender community, gender issues have been on everyone's lips. So, is Zara just trying to jump on that bandwagon? I am an optimist, and I'd love to believe that's not the case. It's just that the final outcome of the collection puzzles my mind a bit. 

What also saddens me, is that genderless clothing is once again conceived as being nothing more than plain t-shirts and simple pants. Reminder, guys: UNGENDERED DOES NOT MEAN BORING! The concept and idea of genderless clothing is that EVERY garment, from skirt to shirt, from bow to tie, from dress to pants, can be worn by both sexes, male and female. Why does Zara play it this safe? Is it because they slowly want to emerge into broadening their ungendered range and expanding it beyond the grey mass it is now? To people that say that 'people aren't ready yet' and 'Zara wants to take it slow', I say this: I know for a fact - being quite aware of what goes on in the high end as well as the high street domain - that Zara has had several types of skirts in the 'menswear' part of their collections. Maybe not that much in stores, because they wouldn't sell that well, but I sure as hell have seen them online, and I sure as hell have had them in my basket, waiting to be clicked home. If it is possible for Zara to feature skirts in their 'menswear' collection, without making all that fuss about it, why is it not possible to include a non-binary defined skirt in the new ungendered section? 

This collection also feels like a one-way (and actually a no-way) street to me: for women, these baggy, oversized silhouettes might be (to say the most) a little out of their comfort zone (which I doubt, considering the current 'sleezy' trend à la Yeezy), for men, this is just playing it safe. There is no challenge for men in wearing these garments, nothing exciting, nothing even a little out of the box. And that's where I, as a passionate advocate for everything ungendered, feel deprived and unsatisfied. As I said above, women going to the menswear department fot a sweater or sweatpants is nothing new, and it's not something anybody would bat an eye for. Tell me I'm wrong when I say it is completely accepted for women to wear baggy sweaters, oversized tees or boyfriend jeans. BUT HOLLA, WHERE MY GIRLFRIEND JEANS AT? 
Yes, women's fashion has always evolved quicker, and women tend to be more open towards changes in wardrobe than men, but that doesn't mean that I should just shut my mouth and wait until I'm old and grey (and don't fit in those cute dresses anymore) before ungendered clothing works in both ways. I will do anything that's in my might to help speed up the process, and if speaking out on my little space on the world wide web is the best I can do for now, I most definitely will say what's on my mind. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I fully see how this is an amazing step forwards into the right direction, I see how important this is for the evolution and standardisation of gender identities, and I applaud Zara for doing this and featuring an ungendered category on their website, it's just that I feel like this was a bit of a missed opportunity to send out a stronger signal. A signal that says it is okay for everyone to wear anything (not only for women and men to wear baggy, oversized clothes that they'd be wearing anyways). Maybe this platform will expand in the future and more styles/a wider range of ungendered clothing will be added, but for now, this is just what I had to say about it all. I've said it before and I'll say it again, no matter what age, race, sexuality or gender you are or define as, if you like it, wear it. Zara shows it, and I'm telling you: the world is changing for the better, and I can't wait to see what the future will bring for all of us. LOVE YOU, DO YOU, BE YOU, WEAR YOU! 

1 comment:

  1. Amen! De collectie voelt als een homewear collectie voor mannen die van onder het stof is gehaald en nu het label "ungendered" krijgt omdat dat momenteel een veelbesproken onderwerp is. Volgens mij eerder een reclamestunt, zeker als je de berichten over hun fitting room policy leest.
    Of misschien ben ik een beetje cynisch, dat kan ook.

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