The California retailer only introduced the segment this past September. Just half a year later, however, it felt confident enough in gender-neutral apparel to make it the star of its Summer 2021 campaign. At the same time, PacSun announced plans to launch Colour Theory, a new gender-free, eco-fashion line of relaxed staples.
The youth-oriented company took yet another step toward expanding its gender-neutral selection last week when it announced the two young designers who will help craft a pair of co-branded, gender-neutral collections for the upcoming holiday season.
Allegra Abrams and Oli Perez were two of more than 200 Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) alumni and scholars to apply for a chance to participate in the FSF’s Gender-Neutral Design Competition. To enter, they had to submit, among other things, a portfolio with eight gender-neutral looks, including 10 to 12 pieces; technical flats for six pieces; and materials, swatches and color concepts with examples of details and trims.
They and six other finalists presented their visions to a panel of industry leaders Thursday. The following day, PacSun publicly announced Abrams and Perez as the winners of the contest. In addition to receiving a creative services fee of $10,000, both winners will have the opportunity to work closely with the retailer’s design and product development teams to have their collections developed, manufactured, marketed and sold at PacSun.
“The FSF received an impressive breadth of gender-neutral design submissions, a reflection of the remarkable and diverse talent in our network of scholarship winners,” Peter Arnold, executive director of the Fashion Scholarship Fund, said in a statement. “Ultimately, Allegra Abrams and Oli Perez were selected for presenting highly original, well-executed concepts. We are so grateful to PacSun for joining us in our mission to create an all-encompassing space that allows for the next generation of fashion talent to showcase their creative visions.”
Abrams, also a 2021 FSF Virgil Abloh Post-Modern Scholar, currently attends the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Science in textiles and fashion design and a minor in entrepreneurship and sustainability. Perez, a 2018 FSF Scholar, graduated from Los Angeles’ Otis College of Art and Design in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design.
“Excited to announce that I’ll be collaborating with @pacsun to create a capsule collection based off of gender neutrality,” Perez wrote on Instagram Friday. “As someone transgender, I’ve always dreamt of designing clothing that the younger me would want to wear, and use as a stepping stone in self discovery. Thank you @fashionscholarshipfund for this opportunity.”
Earlier this year, predictive analytics and retail data platform Trendalytics dubbed gender-neutral fashion a “top market mover,” with 20 percent of new SKUS in the category out of stock. A report from the advertising agency Bigeye found further evidence of a breakdown in gender boundaries, particularly among younger consumers.
According to Bigeye’s research, less than half of female-identifying Gen Zers, 45 percent, said they primarily wore clothes designed for women—69 percent of all female respondents said the same—and 28 percent said they wore clothes designed for women or men depending on how they felt. Among those identifying as male, 71 percent of those from Gen Z said they primarily wore clothes designed for men, compared to 84 percent overall.