The Re-Rise of Androgynous Fashion
The Re-Rise of Androgynous Fashion

While there are no sure-fire ways to predict trends, and fashion more often than not tends to take us by surprise, insiders predict the rise of androgynous trends in a major way this year and the next

As the concept of embracing non-binary identities gathers momentum the world over, it comes as no surprise to witness the renaissance of androgynous fashion among industry experts, fashion insiders and millennials alike. Rising early into the global pandemic, we quickly observed a strong push towards androgyny in fashion design — a trend that, surprisingly, has roots in Industrial-era Britain and France. 


Case in point: In 2020, the British Fashion Council set up a benchmark move by announcing that London Fashion Week would no longer be separating menswear from womenswear. Back home, a volley of fashion stalwarts such as Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Gaurav Gupta, as well as homegrown labels like Advait, Rishta, Huemn, Two Point Two Studio, Dash and Dot, Moral Science and more have been strong advocates of genderless collections and modern design language. We get insiders to share deeper insights into one of 2023’s biggest trends:  


A still from designer Rahul Mishra’s gender-fluid androgynous line, The Enchanted.


Redefining Concepts and the Rise Of Street Brands  


“When one looks at the history of fashion in say, the 19th century, they may not find much difference between men’s and women’s clothing. Androgyne has been a prominent aspect of clothing history and culture whereas fashion primarily has been a medium of self-expression for people. I believe that the gender fluid clothing saw a rise in the mainstream Indian scene more recently with the rise of younger street brands in India sometime before the pandemic,” avers couturier Rahul Mishra. He believes that young people are becoming more individualistic with their fashion choices — any form of expression through clothing is now ‘acceptable’ or ‘fashionable’. “Couture has always been fluid. It is created for a wearer’s body and not as per their gender. As a designer, I see myself adapting the same surfaces and fabric applications into several silhouettes across a collection that are adorned by people of different genders.” 


On similar lines, Ashray Gujral, founder of the gender-fluid label, Dash and Dot, feels the concept has started coming back into the spotlight as today’s generation is redefining concepts of gender as a spectrum rather than a binary. “Today’s youth believe in experimenting with their identities, which eventually translates into experimentation with their clothing, which is no longer confined to the queer community which pioneered gender agnostic dressing,” he adds. 



The Story So Far 


Interestingly, if history is anything to go by, androgynous fashion has always been a part, of and somewhat defined our Indian heritage. Womenswear has — at least since the early 1900s — actively taken inspiration from constructed menswear. However, menswear, on the other hand, has remained more unchallenged till recently. “In recent years, inclusivity and gender fluidity have definitely taken the centre stage, giving birth to many inclusive homegrown brands such as dash & dot, which aim to build a larger table, hence, catering to a larger audience and helping this revolutionary fashion movement go one step further,” Gujral explains. However, there’s clearly a long way to go before the ambit of androgynous clothing is explored to its fullest potential in the Indian fashion spectrum. Anvita Sharma, owner/creative director of Two Point Two, an androgynous label, says, “Especially after section 377 got dismissed and the media covered this very important event, the unaware ignorant masses, as a whole, opened a bit more towards going beyond the binary of genders. And maybe that’s why the androgyny in fashion got accepted more openly as a trickle-down effect from society. When I started Two Point Two back in 2017, which is a completely gender agnostic all-inclusive label, there was not much talk about androgyny and genderless fashion, at least in India. It had already started becoming popular again in Europe even though it’s been around since the 1970s, and shortly after in a year or two, it blew up here as well.  I think a lot of media coverage/movies and especially the fashion scene in the West is primarily responsible for it to become a thing, but we have a long way to go.” 



Non-Binary Trends: Clean, Oversized Styles 


Fashion more often than not takes us by surprise, insiders predict a bunch of fail-safe androgynous trends — overcoats and oversized styles, jadau necklaces, and skirts and the like. “I guess co-ord pant suits are the biggest trend that is going on right now,” opines Sharma. Jayashree Naniah Singh and Rajashree Naniah, co-founders of Loukya, give their votes to overcoats and heritage jewellery. “While we do think the sari is a great example, we are seeing a lot in terms of lehengas/skirts that men are wearing along with long kurtas/sherwani. Overcoats are another thing where we have seen both men and women sharing their wardrobes. In the jewellery space as well, we are seeing men adorning gorgeous jadau necklaces with their wedding attire.” On the other hand, Rupanshi Agarwal, founder & CEO of Qua, feels clean, minimal and oversized styles that are not defined by a particular body shape or type are a big hit. “Even fabrics like silk, which were traditionally appearing in the womenswear category are now open to newer interpretations. In terms of colours as well, we’re seeing people adopt and adorn all shades of the palette — men opting for pastels, women being comfortable with dark colours or pinstripes that used to exclusively dominate menswear. In essence, size, fabric and colour no longer need to conform to traditional menswear/womenswear definitions,” she enthuses.  


Looking at the bigger picture, Gujral feels androgynous wear is here to stay as the future of fashion will be built on the ethos on inclusivity. “Experimentation and inclusivity are key, for any clothing brand, in terms of sizes, silhouettes, styles, and even fabrics to survive and navigate the rapidly evolving fashion industry. The onus is now on fashion labels to evolve with the changing times, and keep their work inclusive while striving to build a larger tent that includes everybody, no matter their demographics,” concludes Gujral. 

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