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Androgynous is the New Black

| Wednesday, September 3, 2014

androgynous-WEBKeri O'Mara

Navigating the convoluted realm of the fashion world can be exhausting. Keeping up with the latest trends is often an exercise in futility. But one lasting trend has taken over the fashion industry. It’s not a particular print, style of pant or accessory, but rather the concept of androgyny. While this more conceptual trend does have a number of specific manifestations, it’s less about wearing specific garments and more about a general approach to dressing. While androgyny has been an element in high fashion for a while, more accessible retailers such as H&M, Forever 21, American Apparel and Zara have been embracing the progressive aesthetic as well.

You may wish to take this article with a grain of salt — it comes from a man who recently bought two pairs of women’s pants and a pair of women’s shoes within a 72-hour span. So here are some high-fashion names to back up my ramblings: Fairly-new label Baja East has gone so far as to offer only one line of clothing, selling the exact same loose-fitting styles to both men and women. Other high fashion labels such as J.W. Anderson, who recently sent male models down the runway wearing platform heels in their Spring/Summer 2014 show, have been gender-bending for a while. Corollary trends, such as boyfriend jeans for women and skinny jeans for men, also come to mind. However, the androgyny trend takes this even further into a realm of clothing designed as unisex, rather than women adopting traditional menswear items as their own or vice-versa. It’s also definitely not exclusive to the high fashion world. One of the disciples of the androgynous movement, street-wear brand Hood By Air, is favored by hip-hop musicians such as Drake, Le1f, Kanye West, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky.

So what exactly is “androgynous fashion,” especially to a college student? It’s whatever you want it to be, and therein lies the beauty. Subscribing to a conceptual trend such as this allows room for significantly more liberty and personal expression. For me, the androgynous movement means looser fits, lighter-weight fabrics, neutral colors and simple sneakers. It’s definitely a comfort-and-convenience-driven approach to dressing, as self-proclaimed “loose luxury” label Baja East proclaims. Think elastic-waist jersey harem pants instead of straight-jacket skinny jeans. Can I get an “amen” for high fashion sweatpants, anybody? Additionally, the benefits of the prevalence of neutral colors need not be mentioned — emphasis on the all-black outfit. When it comes time for you to do laundry, ask not what dark colors can do for you, but what you can do for dark colors.

As someone who has long been frustrated by strict delineations between men’s and women’s clothing – a fashionable scarf is a fashionable scarf. I find this new direction a lot of designers and retailers are taking refreshing; it’s right in line with our generation’s changing ideas of gender equality and the move away from traditional gender roles and values. It’s hard not to appreciate the prospect of wearing looser-fitting, exponentially more comfortable clothing while being fashionable. So go buy some baggy, neutral, wide-neck t-shirts and start celebrating.

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