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The A to Z of gender-fluid menswear

Turns out, inclusive fashion doesn’t mean guys dressing up like girls, after all!

brunch Updated: Mar 10, 2018 23:50 IST
Samreen Tungekar
Samreen Tungekar
Hindustan Times
gender-fluid,fashion,menswear
For men, going the gender-neutral way has less to do with looking like a woman and more to do with freedom. When it comes to fashion Shahid Kapoor says he has come to understand it more over the years (Shirt and bottoms, Urvashi Kaur; shoes, Shahid’s own; Make-up by James; Hair by Aalim Hakim; Styling by Anisha Jain; Location courtesy: Sofitel Mumbai BKC)(Rohan Shrestha)

Ranveer Singh’s skirt stunt has softened the way we look at wardrobes ‘for him’ and ‘for her’. For men, going the gender-neutral way has less to do with looking like a woman and more to do with freedom: of silhouettes, drop-crotch pants and sporting a choker. It’s about choosing the brightest colour and teaming it up with confidence. Here’s a lowdown on all that you need to know about gender-fluid fashion.

A...Acceptance of choice

Fashion designer Resham Karmchandani of The Pot Plant, a brand that defies fashion stereotypes, says it’s all about acceptance. “Gender fluidity is about being at ease in what you wear. We’re finding ways to help men accept what they’re comfortable in, with more flowy silhouettes, different fabrics etc.,” she says.

B...Bling and bright colours

Fashion designer Nachiket Barve says that gender-fluidity has always been part of Indian fashion. “Men have always worn bling, bright colours etc., in different Indian cultures. It’s just more prominent now. Go for sequins on men’s shirts, bomber jackets with patchwork, or even sheers in brighter colours,” he suggests.

C...Cuts and patterns with flow

Silhouettes are being experimented with and deconstruction is the key. “The focus of gender-fluidity is now on asymmetrical cuts, work like ikat, etc.,”says Resham.

D... Different drapes

“Shirt dresses, flared pants, etc., that were earlier considered feminine, have now snuck into menswear. Go for a drape kurta the next time you are shopping,” says Resham.

E...Elements like embroidery

There are many elements that one can add to a look in order to make it more gender-fluid, believes Nachiket.“Wear pleated palazzos, embellishments on shirts, embroidery on shirts, add a bright brooch, wear sunglasses with orange rims,” he says.

F...Fashionably floral

Spring collections show men in floral shirts and rightly so, because flowers and pastels are no longer restricted to women. “Florals are a huge part of this unisex trend. Men all over the world are wearing floral shirts,” says Nachiket.

G...Ghagras and gherawats

Anju Modi was the designer who got Ranveer Singh to wear a skirt for an event, a much-talked about incident. “Mughal influence is making a comeback, such as gherawats and ghagras, anarkalis and angrakhas. Over time, these were considered to be for women only, but not anymore. Men wear gherawats and these other garments confidently now,” she says.

H...Hemlines without rules

If you’re trying to shift the androgynous look from the ramp to real life, the first step would be asymmetrical hemlines, says Resham. “Try them with long silhouettes,” she says.

I...Individuality

Designers and stylists repeatedly emphasise the power of individuality in fashion, and more so for androgynous trends. “Find your individuality through these trends. Mix elements from menswear and womenswear and find out what works for you. Individuality is the best part about a unisex trend,” Resham says.

J...Jewellery

Nachiket favours jewellery for men. “Fifteen to 20 years ago, the market for men’s jewellery was doomed. It has drastically changed over the years, as bangles and cuffs made it to ramps,” he says. Resham suggests wearing earrings and chokers.

K...Kimonos

Kimonos are drape garments that work well on both men and women. Monochromes and colourblock kimonos can be teamed with trousers to create a new look for men. The basic kimono drape in different textures and fabrics can help create a stunning red carpet summer look, says fashion designer Amy Billimoria.

L...Label-free

The best part about gender-fluid fashion is the removal of labels and the balance between the masculine and the feminine. “Millennials don’t care about labels and ideas attached to how a man should dress. We’re confronting a genderless era of fashion more confidently,” Nachiket says.

M...Motifs

Motifs are making a mark on the runway, says designer and fashion stylist Devanshi Tuli. “Gucci has done lot of gender-fluid florals, Alexander McQueen did peacock prints recently, and now motifs such as leaves, geometric shapes, and fruits are becoming popular, as are hearts and animals.”

N...No Rules

“Just like label-free outfits, fashion is at its experimental best where there are no rules,” says Amy. “For example, Ranveer Singh on the red carpet in a skirt was a rule-breaker in the right sense.”

O...Options for occasions

Indian festivals and functions are the perfect opportunity to sport the skirt. “You can probably not wear that angrakha to work, but Indian marriages are the perfect place for a unisex garment. Wear a brocade skirt for a mehendi or an angrakha for an engagement party,” says Anju.

P...Personality over clothing

Gender is only in your mind, says Anju. “Your personality matters more than the clothes you wear. So it’s not about what the garment is or its flamboyance — it’s about whether it fits your personality,” she says.

Q...Quirky prints all the way

While floral is the obvious choice on runways, next come quirky prints. “Quirky prints are upbeat and easily found in most high-street brands, so an anti-fit shirt with quirky prints works,” says Resham.

R...Ramp to real

Looks spotted on the ramp are not always real life-ready, most being a little too flamboyant. Make them real by wearing ready-made asymmetrical separates, says Resham.

S...Sizzling septum rings

If you care for elements rather than clothing, septum rings are it. While Nachiket suggests jewellery, Resham recommends a septum ring to go with your chokers or bangles.

T...Tailor-made, but not for him or her

Tailor-made, says Resham, is about finding the designer that does the genre you’re looking for. “You need to be on the same page about the fabrics and textiles that you want. For instance, we do chanderi suits for both men and women,” she says.

U...Use of make-up

Make-up is not for women or onstage people anymore. “Nowadays, men are openly using cosmetic products,” Nachiket says.

V...Vintage in modernity

According to Resham, vintage gender-neutral trends are now coming back in ways that are relevant to modern day fashion. American rapper Cazwell wore lace shorts in his music video to make a statement last year. “Even in the West, lace was always a big part of vintage fashion. Find the aesthetic and make it relevant for today,” she says.

W...White shirts with ghagras

Who says white shirts are only for blue jeans? Women in Haryana wear shirts with ghagras, which has made it to Western fashion too. “A white shirt goes well with a brocade ghagra,” says Resham.

X...XS to XXL, size no bar

The philosophy of inclusive fashion is to not conform to the standards of sizes. “Gender-fluid fashion is for all body types. You’ll find shirt dresses in the same patterns and cuts for all sizes; the same with drop-crotch pants and other silhouettes,” says Resham.

Y...Yet in style

“Recreation on hemlines and silhouettes can create stunning new fashion trends. Fringes are now being used as trimmings on shirts and saris as well as skirts to create a design element, and that is a unisex trend,” says Amy.

Z...Zippers be cool

Zippers are now accessories, and a part of athleisure (athletic clothes working as casuals), which is a big segment of gender-neutral fashion. “A drape with something structured and a zipper on the sleeves or pockets will be great,” Resham says.

Also see Shahid Kapoor’s interview with HT Brunch

Plus Shahid Kapoor’s take on gender-fluid fashion for HT Brunch

Follow @BeingFeline on Twitter

From HT Brunch, March 11, 2018

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First Published: Mar 10, 2018 23:20 IST