The Phluid project has found a new friend in Zalando – the two are collaborating on a collection that aims to free fashion from its binary gender constraints.
While designers have gotten bolder in mixing and matching during New York Fashion Week and beyond, emphasizing feminine looks on masculine frames, mainstream genderless fashion is still very casual.
The collaboration, which is linked to the German e-commerce giant’s own-brand Yourturn for men, borrowed some of the catwalk boldness when it launched on Friday.
“This is a fall launch, it has nothing to do with LGBTQ identity,” Phluid founder Rob Smith told WWD. “It’s all about self-expression and breaking the binary world.”
It’s also about going out and partying with looks meant to show up on the street or in the club, rather than lounging around.
Smith said the budget collection was designed by the Zalando team with input from Phluid, who provided feedback on everything from the product to the language used to promote it.
“We minimized femininity,” Smith said of society in general. “Elevating masculinity — and seeing a woman dressed in male attire — is a tried and true thing. But seeing a man in feminine, expressive clothing makes one wonder, ‘Why would you do that?’
“When you think of masculinity, you think of power, you think of influence, you think of assertiveness, you think of courage,” Smith said. “Femininity is associated with compassion, empathy, caring and sensitivity, and we don’t give enough importance to the importance of these qualities. When you find the balance between masculine and feminine, it’s really rich.”
The collection – notably not tied to Pride Month, where many brands embrace gender identity – seeks that balance and furthers Zalando’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
Bren Wong, team lead design for men’s private label and genderless products at Zalando’s apparel, footwear and accessories business, said: “We intend to challenge gendered market trends by dissolving the fashion norms for men and women. The capsule collection features silhouettes such as skinny, cropped, asymmetric necklines, floaty and see-through qualities that tend to typify women’s fashion. Our goal is to create an open space for more conversation and experimentation – and to give our customers the opportunity to express themselves freely and to feel safe in their own skin.”