Trickle Down, Pt. 2 of One Runway

By Sarah Weingarten

This is essentially a part two to my post “One Runway” talking about how high-end fashion confronting the binary head on by having non-binary clothing and all gender runways is affecting smaller fashion

The best explanation of trickle down fashion is from the movie The Devil Wears Prada. In this clip Miranda Priestly, Meryl Steep, so gloriously and harshly explains to her newbie assistant Andy Sachs, Anne Hathaway, how fashion affects everyone.

Once the big-wig designers start showing non-binary fashion it’s only a matter of time before it’s being filtered down into the more reasonably priced stores that the masses shop at.

According to The New York Times article “In Fashion, Gender Lines Are Blurring,” the NYT thinks that non-gender clothes are gaining traction because the current young adults want labels without the logo. A uniform they can wear every day that is stylish but isn’t distracting. It’s an odd theory, but one I can agree with because I have a uniform of black jeans, black boots, a t-shirt and my leather jacket.

Going back to the NYT article, they make a strong point about how women are more comfortable buying men’s clothes than men wearing women’s clothes. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, a fashion historian and the author said that “[Men] have traditionally been immune to gender-neutral fashion trends.”

Chrisman-Campbell begs to differ that trickle down fashion for gender-neutral clothing is happening. She says that we aren’t necessarily in a new phase in fashion just because the higher up fashion houses are blurring gender lines, “What we’re talking about is the leading edge of fashion, not what you’re going to find at J. Crew.” But then she goes on to say, “Still every time these trends come up they push the boundaries a little bit more.”

Around the same time, the NYT published that piece Racked had a feature titled “Fashion’s Bold New Future Has No Gender.” Racked’s feature is very important to understand how non-binary fashion is reaching a mass audience because finally the rise of athleisure clothing is talked about.

Athleisure clothing is athletic clothes that you don’t have to work out in. Yes, you can work out in them, but if they’re so cool and stylish that wearing them daily outside the gym is acceptable. If you need a visual of what athleisure is a link to Beyoncé’s line Ivy Park is linked.

Athleisure is the most unisex form of clothing that has been around. Joggers, sweatpants that are cinched at the ankle, became a trendy comfortable wardrobe staple within the last year. My 13-year-old brother and I have the same pair of joggers and we jokingly wear them together with our Nike sneakers.

The rise of athleisure lines has normalized the idea of successful and trendy unisex clothing. If wearing Adidas three stripe sweatpants and a trefoil hoodie isn’t your style don’t worry. Athleisure wear was the jumping off point, but not the end game of trickle down unisex clothing.

Bustle published an article “7 Gender Non Conformist & Gender Neutral Clothing Brands To Support Right Now.” The seven lines featured are very cool and trendy.

Basically, what I’m getting at is Chrisman-Campbell’s doubts about unisex fashion rippling down to the masses are unqualified. Yes, there are some brands that will not break way from the gender binary, but non-binary lines keep popping up and non-binary clothing trends are picking up traction. I know the ripple down effect is working because I just ordered new t-shirts from my favorite t-shirt shop and had them sent to my house in Cleveland and I had to text my brother not to open my package and wear my new clothes.


One Runway

By Sarah Weingarten

Androgyny has been sweeping the high fashion world. Blending gender and combining the womenswear and menswear runway is a growing trend among high-end designers. In 2015, Prada made what should have been their fall menswear runway show an all gender show. On everyone’s seat was a printed note saying “Gender is a context and context is often gendered.”

Hood By Air, HBA, had a gender mixed runway for their Fall 2015 menswear collection. HBA’s models were masked, and the clothes distorted, leaving an odd feeling of not knowing what is what. In the Vogue review critic, Maya Singer said that the distorted clothes and hiding the models genders read as a “rejection of the binaries.”


HBA’s rejection of the binary and making it difficult to gender the models goes against a societal instinct of American’s to categorize and label everything and everyone. I can only speak based on American society because I’ve never been part of another culture, but I have a pretty solid feeling that American’s are not the only one’s who put everything and everyone into a box.

American’s feel confused when they can’t label or understand someone, especially their gender. From experience, I find that people use labels, specifically gender labels because it helps them understand that person. Not being able to label someone’s gender confuses and frightens some people because they don’t know how to behave around someone who isn’t gendered.

The need to clarify and label genders is related to our intersex readings. Intersex people are an enigma to those who can’t grasp that gender is a spectrum and that genitalia and gender identity are separate.

In “Claudia Is Intersex,” Claudia writes about everything I just mentioned, about people being scared if they can’t label someone’s gender right away. Claudia thinks the need to gender everyone into two categories is because “there’s this idea out there that based on the body parts that a person has, their sex, gender, and sexual orientation are all inherently linked in one of two pre-determined sets.”

Claudia then writes that because there aren’t set guidelines for how intersex people are supposed to act or be treated in society people freak out. So then intersex people must be fixed to be “normal,” normal being either female anatomy or male anatomy. A lot of intersex surgeries that happen aren’t for medical care, or because intersex people’s health are in danger. The surgeries happen so other people feel more comfortable knowing they can correctly gender them.

The gender and biology confusion that intersex people face is parallel to the ones that non-binary face. A lot of people can’t wrap their heads around someone with a penis not identifying as a male or as a female, and vice versa. They’re just a genderless person.

My mom who is a relatively socially progressive person has trouble disassociating gender from genitalia. When Caitlyn Jenner came out and changed their pronouns my mom asked me if Caitlyn could technically change their pronouns to she/her if she still had a penis, because wouldn’t that make her a man still? Needless to say, we had a very long conversation about gender identity, pronouns and the gender spectrum.

There are still times when she doesn’t understand how gender or non-binary isn’t related to genitalia, but she’s trying hard to educate herself. Seeing big name fashion houses have non-binary or all gender runway shows may be baby steps, but it most likely start a trickle down effect of nonbinary clothing. Clothing is a huge gender identifier so blurring the lines of what certain genders and non-binary people should wear is a big step to erase the binary.