A shot from the campaign for Level, a brand offering unisex sweats and streetwear.
While Mendez’s example was extreme – Ali G, a parody of the “white guy” appropriation of hip-hop culture, usually wore a yellow parachute tracksuit and trainers – he wasn’t far from the truth.
While Rigutto and his business partners were dreaming up a truly unisex clothing brand two years ago, well before #metoo and the election of Donald Trump, he can’t help draw parallels between the demand for diversity and inclusiveness in fashion and the success of unisex, or genderless, brands.
On the runway, everyone from Gucci to Tom Ford has shown men’s and women’s clothing together. Other designers, such as J.W. Anderson, have presented collections that don’t easily fall into predetermined gender categories.
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One of the common misconceptions around unisex clothing, says Rigutto, is that it’s inherently “greige”, or unflattering. When he was starting Level, he wanted to create pieces that could fit “everyone from a ballerina to a footballer”.
“We wanted to tailor our sweats, they’re not big and boxy – they’re not shapeless bags you throw over,” he says.
Stylist Kate Gaskin says a strong shift to looser silhouettes could tempt more consumers to purchase clothes initially made for the opposite sex.
“Baggy and oversized is something the Australian consumer will embrace, we love a casual look, it suits out lifestyle,” says Gaskin, who regularly buys from the men’s section at retailers such as COS.
Courtney Holm, of A.BCH, has made a considered effort to remove gender from her brand identity. Her website has no dedicated men’s or women’s sections. And although she designs her pieces with a gender in mind, she doesn’t care who buys them.
“[Unisex] doesn’t have to mean a drop crotch. If a guy likes the dress, he can wear the dress. We try to let people just feel free to buy whatever they want,” she says.
Holm, 32, began her career in menswear and launched A.BCH to be something classic and not trend driven, which suits the unisex philosophy.
Money calling back 2 back so I keep takin trips
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– Sydney Morning Herald
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