The trend toward gender neutral clothing continues to permeate retail, with some brands creating designated genderless zones in stores, others using female models to sell menswear, and many starting to design pieces not designated for one type of person or another.
Zara just added a new “ungendered” section to its website with clothing meant to cater to those who may not identify with a specific gender.
The line includes joggers, long- and short-sleeve tees, Bermuda shorts and tanks in neutral colors, and Zara uses a male and female model to show how the clothing looks on each. Sizes run from small to large.
“It’s 2015—and our nation is degenderizing,” NPD said in a recent report titled, “Blurred lines: How retail is becoming less gendered, and why you should care.”
Retail, according to NPD, is blurring the gender lines faster than any other business sector in America because consumers are demanding it.
“From clothing to footwear to technology, forward-thinking companies are enacting a less binary vision of how we shop, dress, and live—in response to an emerging consumer need,” according to NPD. “A genderless fashion market is developing. It’s far less saturated than its gendered counterpart, and it is rife with opportunity for new entrants.”
But while the fledgling genderless apparel market may be catching on with more retailers, what’s come out so far leaves a lot to be desired.
Celena Tang, a female consumer who prefers clothing that errs on the more masculine side, said she’d have little interest in shopping Zara’s new line, which she called “sloppy” and “shapeless.”
“This looks like they just grabbed stuff from the men’s section, put it on a female and called it ungendered,” she said. “There’s no color, there’s no fit, it’s like this grey area. I think there’s a lot of room for expansion and I think it requires a lot of research.”
Fit appears to be one area retailers haven’t quite figured out when it comes to genderless clothing.
As Tang—who happens to be petite—explained, when she shops in men’s departments, the shoulders tend to hang over, but women’s clothing comes with darts and details she’d prefer not to have. Men who’d like more feminine clothing, conversely, would likely encounter a similar problem.
“I would try shopping that section, but I doubt I would find a size particular for me,” Tang referring to Zara’s unisex line.
For now, it seems, the concept could only work for basics—though the problem there is that consumers who identify as ungendered don’t necessarily want to don minimalist garb.
“I think it’s good in a social and cultural way to offer ungendered clothing. As humans, we shouldn’t be categorized into two sexes, female and male, because that doesn’t exist. There’s a whole range in between,” Tang said. “It’s a good step, but I’d want to see more clothing.”