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Gender fluid is the future of New York Men's Day

By Kristopher Fraser

Sep 16, 2020

New York Men’s Day certainly looked a little different this year, taking the virtual approach like 97 percent of New York Fashion Week did. This season, the crop of ten designers included Apotts, Carter Young, David Hart, Future Lovers of Tomorrow, Ka Wa Key, Official Rebrand, Stan, Teddy Vonranson, Timo Weiland, and Wataru Tominaga. While it is called New York Men’s Day, gender fluid fashion became one of the biggest highlights of the digital iteration of New York Men’s Day. Apotts, Ka Wa Key, Official Rebrand, and Wataru Tominaga all presented gender fluid collections.

Apotts opted to not only explore the dynamics of gender, but also race, with their collection taking inspiration from the topsy-turvy doll, a toy popularized in the American South in the early 19th century. When flipped on one end, a Black doll dresses in fabrics of slavery and servitude appeared, when flipped on the other end, a finely dressed white doll appears. The two dolls represent a nuanced interpretation of racial dynamics disguised in society. The clothes in this collection, similar to the doll, were turned upside down and inside out, reimagining the construction and juxtaposition of the dolls. Pieces including cotton shirts, denim, and babydoll dresses and petticoats were all reimagined with exaggerated proportions. It was a message that regardless of race or gender, we can all enjoy playing dress up.

London-based Ka Wa Key was inspired by the theme of no place like home. This led to a whimsical collection of brightly patterned garments in every shade of the rainbow and clothes fit for a queer love story. There was no concept of gender here, but, rather, love was love. The brand is also evidence of just how much the gender fluid fashion movement is gaining traction as they have picked up retail partners including Urban Outfitters, Opening Ceremony, and Han Style Korea.

For MI Leggett of Official Rebrand, gender fluid fashion has never been a trend, but the entire antithesis of their brand DNA. This season, the designer, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them/their pronouns, focused their collection on anti-waste urgency and social unrest throughout history. Leggett took discard clothing and “rebranded” it, as is their typical process, introducing a collection with no gender binary constraints that was part art and part upcycled fashion.

Wataru Tominaga made their New York Fashion Week debut with an eclectic collection inspired by ‘70s photographic flower prints, embroidery of someone’s apron, unknown brand mascots, and accumulation of random visual memory like patchwork. Multi-brand button-up shirts and maximalist patterned T-shirts could fit well on any customer male or female. Sure, some pieces might have seemed a bit busy, but perhaps it takes a busy outfit to distract from the gender binary.

It might be New York Men’s Day, but menswear is having a gender fluid moment. At the end of the day, there’s no men’s or women’s clothes, but just clothes.

photos: courtesy of Agentry PR