Many department stores today are committed to stocking unisex, androgynous and tomboy aesthetic clothing next to the boys and girls stock. Given the diverse nature of current fashion trends, we saw it necessary to take you down memory lane and show you when and why the business of unisex clothing came into being…
A few decades back, it was unheard off for men or women to dress in the opposite sex’s clothes. A man adorning a dress or a woman wearing a suit would have been frowned upon, scolded and even jailed back in the 1920’s and 30’s.
However, the World War Two brought those barriers down as it laid down the foundation for unisex clothing. Soldiers in the allied forces wore clothing and makeup blending with other women to entrap Nazi forces pretending to be prostitutes.
Bloomers were also rife in the decade-long war. Women left at home to tend to the children as their husband fought in the war, wore unisex clothing to tend to all chores even those perceived to be manly.
Bloomers were named after women’s right advocate Amelia Bloomer argued that women should wear pants under their dresses for comfort and more flexibility while attending to chores.
The 1960’s Sexual Revolution and Feminism Wave
The 1960’s were not only great because of the moon landing, and the sexual revolution hit across the world as men and women became bold and challenged political, social and sexual mores that were entrenched deep in traditional hierarchies.
In the US, the second wave feminism grew in popularity as women challenged the imposed gender roles. The 1960’s era saw designers pushed to add new definitions of youth and universality into their work.
Unisex clothing became the obvious choice to demand multifaceted freedom. Young men and women of that era embraced unisex clothing as a way of disavowing traditional hierarchies attitudes imposed in the fashion industry.
Paris is the birthplace of both second-wave feminism and the sexual revolution, and models adorned simple, sleek unisex patterns designed by fashion houses such as Paco Rabanne, Andre Courreges, and Pierre Cardin.
In 1968, the New York Times introduced the word unisex into their vocabulary to describe Monster Shoes. Over the months, they included ‘unisex’ five more times making Department stores across the United States create unisex sections.
The stores hired models to wear matching bell bottoms to show that both men and women could wear the attire. Not to be left behind, fashion catalogs begun selling unisex sewing patterns thus cementing the popularity of unisex clothing!
The 1960’s era will go down in history as the decade where men ditched gray flannel suits, women’s clothing became more androgynous as both sexes overcame the idea of static and fixed gender roles. At the same time a movement towards normalise the idea of stay at home dads began as well as a movement towards liberation of public breast feeding began.
The Unisex clothing industry over the years has seen designers explore how gender and fashion come together. Today, men and women are free to wear clothes fitting their personalities unlike what was the norm in the 1950’s and back. A style is about being yourself and today’s fashion world has seen many people dress according to their style. The unisex clothing trend made it possible for individuals in the 21st century be themselves as opposed to being constrained by societal norms.