It's not a matter of gender, it's a matter of identity
It's not a matter of gender, it's a matter of identity
Skirts in Miguel Vieira's men's collections. Men and women wearing the same clothes on Hugo Costa's catwalks. Dresses that suit boys perfectly at Inês Torcato's fashion shows. The common denominator in these three fractions is simple: the irrelevance of gender. This is one of the most recent trends, which teaches us that identity can and should superimpose itself on gender and the consequences of being a man or a woman. As always, fashion has not neglected its important role in our identity, and the concept of "gender neutral” has been gaining ground in the collections by designers and labels from all over the world, including Portugal.

There are concepts that have been undergoing deconstruction in recent years and the term "gender” is one of them. Men's and Women's section no longer dictate what each one should or shouldn't wear. Gender identity has become more fluid and subjective, increasingly letting it to the discretion of each person to decide what they most identify with. But is the idea of gender as flexible as all that? Yes, it is. This is because gender consists of the sociocultural expression of specific characteristics or attributes associated with biological sex, male or female, which is basically a social definition that varies according to the times and the culture it is part of. In recent times, breaking down gender barriers politically and socially is being seen intensely in fashion. The idea that women wear skirts and men wear trousers is long dead and buried. Nowadays, more and more designers are creating unisex collections, where shapes, colours, silhouettes and patterns can be worn by literally anybody, and more and more people are wearing them, devoid of preconceived ideas. Many fashion professionals have given up on proposals for boys and for girls, replacing them with proposals for people.

In October last year, Emma Mcllroy, Wildfang CEO, told The Independent that "gender-neutral clothing forces no one to stay in the closet. It allows people to self-express exactly how they choose to”. This idea of free expression is shared by other international labels, such as H&M, Zara or even houses like Prada, Givenchy and Saint Laurent, whose catwalks have men and women modelling the same collections, the same clothes and with the same attitude, and sending a single message: absence of gender. Neutrality and smoothness are other terms that perfectly embody this concept that has been sweeping not only international fashion weeks, but also the day-to-day lives of millions of people.

In Portugal too, we are seeing an increase in the no gender trend. Several Portugal Fashion events have welcomed fashion shows devoid of male or female labelling, whether summer or winter: Hugo Costa and Inês Torcato are examples of designers who make no gender distinctions in their collections. 

Last season, SS18, the designer from São João da Madeira took his inspiration from the nomadic Moken people and brought us a collection with a flavour of the sea. The shades of white, black, grey, aqua and yellow were perfectly suited to men and women, who all wore the same type of shirts, shorts, overalls and jumpers. "We are trying to show the label's gender versatility”, said Hugo Costa. "In Paris, we have a presentation at the men's fashion week and we want to be able to put exactly the same clothes on a woman, with no changes and maintain the label's DNA”, the designer added.

Hugo Costa's SS18 collection

Colours are not the only neutral item in Inês Torcato's designs. The Bloomer, who explores and deconstructs the classics, always from a self-portrait perspective, stands out for the long-line silhouettes in her shirts, dresses, jackets and suits. Miguel Vieira too has devoted himself to breaking down barriers: in the midst of his celebration of 30 years in the business, the designer has incorporated skirts worn by male models in his FW18-19 at Milano Moda Uomo, where women also modelled, under the theme of Rock & Roll. And even designer Pedro Pedro, who mainly works in clothes for women, has chosen to define more neutral, undefined silhouettes, extending his proposals to the male audience also. "We are on the road to democratisation of ideas and permission for everything to be mixed up”, said the designer. "It is becoming more and more important not to put set labels on things. It's a brave new world”, he added.
And is this trend your cup of tea?

Miguel Vieira's FW18-19 collection