Be it the fabric, the cut of the cloth, the use of colours or the placement of buttons, fashion has historically stayed with gender stereotypes. Notions of feminine and masculine dominate wardrobes even before birth, with baby showers themed in blue or pink. Now, the industry is trying to creatively defy this strictly binary gender classification.
Niche labels are seeking to un-gender the vocabulary of fashion and the last decade has seen a greater degree of self-assertion through the prism of identity politics. With the growth of queer movements around the world and in India, non-normative aesthetics and marginal voices have found a degree of representation.
Designers are now creating outfits for different body types. Although unisex clothes have not entirely broken out of the mould of body-conscious and structured pieces, these now tend to veer towards minimal, sleek and deconstructed silhouettes. The clothes we choose to wear demonstrate that gender and sexuality are increasingly being seen as a fluid spectrum.
Here are some brands which are blurring the boundaries and creating a new aesthetic.
ANAAM BY SUMIRAN KABIR SHARMA
Anaam’s signature style is defined by the drape and stark silhouettes. Sharma did not have a particular body type in mind. “I would directly cut patterns by draping the fabrics on mannequins or even my own body, but I would offset them with patterns,” he says.
THE POT PLANT BY SANYA SURI AND RESHAM KARMCHANDANI
Traditional crafts such as Bandhini, Shibori and tie-and-dye are mainstays of the label’s design aesthetic. Co-founder Sanya Suri says, “Over time, these crafts have traditionally been thought to be feminine, but they are worn by everyone in areas such as Rajasthan and Bhuj.”
BLONI BY AKSHAT BANSAL
Bansal uses a variety of fabrics. While the brand started out using monochromatic colours and Bandhini, it has begun incorporating colourful, iridescent and glossy materials such as plastic and latex. “Latex is so synonymous with bondage culture that I wanted to use it to reflect off primary colours, kind of like those in the rainbow,” he says.
CHOLA BY SOHAYA MISRA
Misra creates anti-fit garments in upcycled and natural fabrics that can be self-styled. She says, “I try to accessorize clothes with belts, buttons, loops, etc., all of which can be used to style the clothes in various ways, unrestrictively.”
KALLOL DATTA 1955 BY KALLOL DATTA
“Sexless” is how Datta describes his abstract, shape-inspired design aesthetic. He turns his ideas into garments with distorted silhouettes, explaining: “Every garment needs a body part to balance upon, and mine are the armholes. So, anyone can wear these garments, but they will drape differently with each body type.”
HUEMN BY SHYMA SHETTYAND PRANAV MISRA
Huemn’s youthful and dynamic style coincides with their take on the non-binary aesthetic. All the label’s clothes can be worn by any gender. Its co-founder, Pranav Misra, says, “We didn’t really come with any agenda with the aesthetic and didn’t want to make a caricature of it either, so our clothes can effortlessly be worn by anyone.”