Founder of Qwear Sonny Oram talks about how the fashion industry is breaking down barriers between the sexes.
“I was never comfortable wearing the clothing prescribed to the sex I was assigned at birth. I would gaze enviously into the men’s section, believing a myth that it would never fit my body.”
Sonny Oram, from Boston US, is the founding editor of Qwear magazine, LGBTQ+ activist and queer fashion expert. Oram created Qwear to provide a space for the LGBTQ+ community to share their personal style and to challenge mainstream beauty norms.
“People like me had nowhere to go for style advice. There were a million mainstream magazines geared towards women, but hardly any queer fashion outlets.”
“Qwear is for people of all gender expressions,” Oram says.
Now, the fashion industry is embracing change with fluidity on the catwalks that makes it hard to differentiate the menswear from women’s collections.
The most notable figure in this evolution is Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. Since taking the helm at the fashion house in 2015, Michele has presented his men’s and women’s collections together; but 2017 saw the first official gender neutral show for Gucci. The collection was interchangeable with similar aesthetics used in both men’s and women’s garments.
“Women in menswear has always been fairly common but men in womenswear is becoming more commonplace on the runway. We’re seeing young male heartthrobs such as Jaden Smith and Harry Styles wearing skirts and even blouses,” he says.
‘We are all humans with unique bodies and unique expressions’
Smith made waves in 2015 by fronting the campaign for Louis Vuitton’s womenswear collection in women’s clothing, while Styles is donning Gucci’s signature floral suits and stereotypically feminine trends.
“But we still have a lot of work to do,” Oram says. “Just because a celebrity can wear a skirt, it doesn’t mean that all men who want to wear skirts will be safe.”
But now the fashion industry is welcoming the idea of gender fluidity. With the emergence of Selfridges A-Gender pop up shop in 2015 propelling this issue into the spotlight many brands soon followed suit including Rad Hourani and Zara.
“More companies are creating unisex clothing which is giving more freedom of expression. We are all humans with unique bodies and unique expressions. There is no need to limit ourselves to menswear and womenswear,” Oram explains.
Social media has transformed how we seek fashion inspiration. Instead of looking to fashion magazines, consumers are looking to the streets for inspiration. Brands are realising that gender has little significance in street style; it’s about which clothes feel appropriate.
“We’re hyper-aware of social norms because we don’t fit into them. We borrow ideas from mainstream fashion and make it our own,” Oram says.
If our personas are no longer defined by gender why should our fashion choices?