Our perception of androgyny is linked to gender recognition. One of the most prominent ways that we can understand or identify gender is through clothing, as this is one of the largest visual clues. The following research looks at what impact androgynous fashion has on achieving gender equality. Throughout history gender has had a large part to play in influencing the perceptions of androgynous fashion and continues to do so in society today.
Findings of the research conducted, includes five main topics that have been discussed in this paper and outline how the fashion industry could use this information in the future to further extend their research. The key topics are as follows: Other practitioners in the field, Gaps in the field, Design codes that inform your practice, Unique design position and Market forces. Other practitioners in the field introduces the idea that there are already some practitioners that are supporting androgynous fashion.
However, they should be collaborating with more people in the industry to enhance the presence of this trend in the current market. Gaps in the field suggests that there is a divide when it comes to the fashion industry and gender equality. Design codes that inform your practice reveal the endless and innovative possibilities that androgynous fashion could take in the future as well as the new doors it could open up. Unique design position outlines the position I take on this controversial topic.
Market forces discusses the economic factors that influence the price and demand for androgynous fashion. Androgyny is gradually becoming a global trend in the fashion industry, which can largely be attributed to movements in society’s views regarding gender identity. Gender identity is a socially constructed concept which can be interpreted differently by different people depending on their cultural background, however is still subconsciously agreed upon. As a consequence, when a person goes against the grain and adapts traits from their opposite sex, they stand out.
To answer the main research question “What impact does androgynous fashion have on achieving gender equality”, five topics will be covered: Other practitioners in the field Gaps in the field Design codes that inform your practice Unique design position Market forces The process in determining what role androgyny has in the world of fashion today is quite complex. Androgynous fashion could be seen as contingent, as this type of design may be misunderstood by many non-design disciplines. Since the early days of 1240 BC man and woman have always been seen and understood to be separate people.
The stereotypical masculine or feminine attributes are not personality characteristics of individual men and women but socially constructed representations of gender, on the basis of what society expects. The aim of this paper is to provide the reader with a structured framework of this topic, an insight of the impact that androgynous fashion has on achieving gender equality and a forecast into the future of androgynous fashion in the fashion industry.
The research conducted in this paper will provide a further understanding of the socially constructed views of ndrogyny and gender, which could be of interest to many different groups of professionals including marketeers, androgynous clothing brands, stylists and designers. Furthermore, the purpose of this paper is to create a better understanding of the impacts of androgyny and gender equality on consumer perception in the fashion industry. LITERATURE REVIEW Throughout the 18th century, the roles of men and women were influenced by clothing and garments and vice versa – clothing also influenced roles of people in society. The female dress has historically been found to limit the social roles of women both physically and symbolically.
Not only did the dress influence the shape and appearance of females it also had a significant impact on the construction of social identity. The dress of a nonworking woman largely demonstrated the economic situation of her husband who was the supplier of the family. The dress was often the signifier of social class and the more elaborate it was the higher the social class. Forcing men and women into a style based on their gender became a thing of the past as Chanel gave women the gift of pants in the early 1900’s.
This notion was extended by other women such as Katharine Hepburn who felt the need to shake conventional gender norms, by walking around in her silk underwear until her confiscated pants were returned. This independence showed that she wasn’t going to let her gender dictate how she should dress. Androgynous fashion throughout the 1960’s featured the Peacock Revolution which focused on women breaking free from rigid gender stereotypes, which then in-turn encouraged men to also shake loose from their gendered tropes and constraints.
This proved to be a new way to explore and assert heir individuality. During this period and still today the way we dress affects the way we are perceived by others. It defines the expectations of those around us and is the main contribution that forms impressions. As genderless designs continue to become more common, the line between male and female dichotomy is blurring. Notions of masculinity and femininity cease to have meaning. Androgynous fashion is coming to the forefront in a big way but with the underlying commentary, of where our society is heading or what it is evolving towards.
There is a long history of gender lines being blurred in clothing as a way to demonstrate equality between the sexes of men and women and the freedom from sexual roles. A unisex style has tried to conceal gender differences showing a masquerade of equality for all, however an androgynous style seeks to unite the female and male body. Challenging gender norms through fashion, the line between men and women’s fashion is blurred, therefore why should we be conformed to dressing how society thinks we should dress based on our gender.
The inherent contradiction of fashion stems from the reflection on the representation of the body in the declaration of gender identity. DISCUSSION What does the term androgyny mean? The term androgyny is a word that is used to describe the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics, thus creating a person devoid of sexual attributes. In other words it is the idea of a genderless person. To understand what a ‘genderless person’ means, it is important to first understand what gender means. Sex and Gender When you are born you are assigned a sex which refers to the biological differences as you come out of the womb.
Gender, on the contrary, describes the characteristics that a society or culture depicts as masculine or feminine. So while your sex as male or female is a biological fact that is the same in any culture, what that sex means in terms of your gender role as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ in society can be quite different cross culturally. In today’s society, masculinity is often translated into hard labour, physical strength, power and courageous, while femininity on the other hand is often seen as sensual, seductive, gentle, sweet, emotional and dainty.
The roles of the typical man and woman are parallel to how society views the qualities of masculinity and femininity and therefore express cultural assumptions on what a male (masculinity) and what a female (femininity) are. As their images are projected to us on a daily basis, this influences the socially constructed norm of gender identity. Gender in Clothing Since we were young and throughout our upbringing, the media has continually promoted images that influence our views on what a woman wears and what a man wears. Typically speaking, men wear trousers and women wear dresses.
Every day we engage with symbols that cause our minds to subconsciously recognise the differences between male and female. A broad part of gender role is dependent on clothing as people rely on visual clues to help the brain process who or what gender an individual is. Studies show that a vast percentage of males would not wear clothing that is made for women as they feel it would not be culturally acceptable, while women, on the other hand, said they would wear clothing that was made for men and some would even prefer the fit and style of menswear.
The increased percentage of women wearing men’s clothing shows that it is becoming more acceptable and women are feeling more empowered, comfortable and free in their clothing choices. Androgyny Now we understand what the term androgyny means, it is important to look specifically at what androgyny is. Androgyny is a subtle form for an individual to communicate their gender identity, as the human mind needs visual clues to understand who/what a person is.
Using clothing to shape ones image is something that everyone does, whether it is acknowledged or not. Typically speaking, in Western society we tend to place people in ‘gender’ boxes i. . man or woman and therefore androgyny can be confusing. Since we are so dependent on clothing as a visual clue, androgyny (and gender identity) has a significant impact on the fashion industry. Research studies have shown associations between androgyny and a wide range of positive outcomes such as self-esteem, satisfaction with life, marital satisfaction, subjective feelings of well-being, ego identity, parental effectiveness, perceived competence, achievement motivation and cognitive complexity when evaluating careers, cognitive flexibility, and behavioural flexibility.
However; upon interviewing two individual androgynies, their responses varied slightly from the focus group: one interviewee said that it has become more commonplace and gradually become ‘the norm’, whereas the other person said it has become more present in people’s minds as an option, becoming a mainstream trend that remains quite superficial. Both the focus group, survey and interview results show that people associate androgyny with clothing, but there is no real understanding of why people dress androgynously: the reasoning is still unclear.
History Construction of Masculinity and Femininity Masculinity and Femininity refers to the degree to which persons see themselves as masculine or feminine given what it means to be man or woman in society. Masculinity and Femininity are rooted in the social (one’s gender) rather than the biological (one’s sex). Society then determines and defines what it means to be male or female. Males will generally define themselves as masculine, while females will generally define themselves as feminine. However because these are social definitions it is possible for a female to see herself as masculine and a male to see himself as feminine.
Roles of men and women have influenced fashion and garments and vice versa – fashion influenced roles in the same respect. However in society, stereotypically men are seen as aggressive, competitive and instrumentally orientated while women are considered to be passive, co-operative and expressive. A case study lead by Anthropologist Margaret Mead concluded that there are no necessary differences in traits or temperament between the sexes. Observed differences in temperament between men and women were not a function of their biological differences but resulted from differences in socialisation and cultural expectations held for each sex.
Where do we draw the line between men and women’s fashion? During the last two centuries, the definitions of gender have become more and more vague, reflecting the cultural uncertainty that surrounds the male and female roles. These roles provide to each gender the identity which is a social construct not only determined by our biological sex. Our stereotypical masculine or feminine features are not only personality characteristics but representations of gender and what society expects.
These expectations organise the social gender identity, making it a strong frame of reference within which boys and girls socialise and adults are redefined. What is the relationship between androgyny and gender equality? What is gender equality and how can we achieve it? Development of an adequate understanding of mainstreaming requires clarity on the related concepts of gender and equality. Equality between women and men refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys.
Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognising the diversity of different groups of women and men. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centred development. Gender refers to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well as the relations between women and those between men.
These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialisation processes. They are context and time-specific and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a women or a man in a given context. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities.
Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural context. Other important criteria for socio-cultural analysis include class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age. Gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision-making, and when the different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are equally valued and favoured.
Is gender fluid fashion the first step in achieving gender equality? Genderless clothing is a direct response to feminist and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) rights movements. Genderless fashion can help to usher in gender equality and cater to those who do not conform to normative gender roles. Unisex fashion has always had a negative image due to sizing and fit issues, therefore bespoke tailoring and custom pieces are essential for any genderless brand that works with high quality tailoring.