The high end London retailer’s campaign is “a celebration of fashion without definition.”
Photo via Selfridges.
It’s 2015 and people, slowly but surely, are grasping that gender is no longer binary. Fashion may not be an industry that’s particularly celebrated for its inclusivity, but it has played a role in helping to break down conventional gender roles—championing androgynous styles and transgender models, in particular—whether that end result was planned or simply happenstance.
Agender offerings by Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh, Ann Demeulemeester, and Comme des Garçons. Images courtesy Selfridges.
Last week, Selfridges, the London high-end department store chain, broke more ground, launching Agender, their revolutionary, “genderless” pop-up store where labels, branding, and standard visual merchandising cues are banished. Agender’s offerings are separated from Selfridges’ more mainstream retail, housed in a connecting, stark three-floor space that boasts chicken-wire mesh cages and amorphous papier-mâché sculptures. The designs are hidden in garment bags and tagged with handwritten descriptions of the pieces. A peephole cut into the bags allows customers to peer inside, if they’re so enticed. Faye Toogood, the creative mastermind behind Agender’s interiors, says this top-to-bottom shopping experience aims to break down the standard gender segregations that department stores create. “Selfridges’ ambition was to create a space where men and women could essentially come and shop together irrespective of gender, and that you would choose clothes as an individual rather than based on your gender,” she said to Dazed.
The list of participating designers is anything but lacking: Ann Demeulemeester, Comme des Garçons, Rad Hourani, Virgil Abloh, Gareth Pugh, and Nicola Formichetti are counted in Agender’s impressive ranks. Add an exclusive track “He She Me” and accompanying video from Dev Hynes and Neneh Cherry for additional cool-kid clout and you’ve also roped in more of the music bunch. It may be part-PR ploy, part-art project, part-fashion collection, but the campaign has certainly garnered intrigue, if with a bit of a smirk—the New York Times called Agender “the stuff of normcore dreams.”
The presentation as a whole may be a bit overkill, but the underlying sentiment is at least interesting, refreshing, and culturally relevant. Pushing boundaries and reinvention are both inherent to fashion, and part of what makes it so damn fun. And if it increases awareness that gender identity isn’t so black and white after all, that’s certainly nothing to scoff at.