Why Zara’s Ungendered Line Totally Missed the Mark
In many ways, I’m proud of our generation.
Yes, we’ve done some really stupid shit and we also have a bit of a narcissistic streak. (The latter is easily exhibited in our love for looking at ourselves in our iPhones and sharing our filtered faces to people who really don’t care.)
But in our short lifetimes, we have seen strides towards the further acceptance of people in the LGBTQ communities. Of course, I am not at all discounting states like Georgia and North Carolina that are creating bigoted laws against people of the community, but I am recognizing the nationwide strides we have made in the right direction.
It’s no surprise, then, that the fashion community is right there with the country when it comes to gender neutrality.
For years, the fashion world has played with gender in their fashion campaigns. The most recent, and slightly controversial example was Jaden Smith modeling skirts for Louis Vuitton.
The idea was that it didn’t necessarily matter who was in the clothes, man or woman, it’s how you wear them and the confidence you exude.
Even bigger than this, the idea of gender neutral clothing lines are becoming the next big thing for designers and retailers.
Zara recently put out a line called “Ungendered” that is available on their website. The line is supposed to be exactly how it sounds, a selection of 16 items that can be worn by either women or men.
However, this line totally missed the mark.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all about having gender neutral products, but Zara sends an entirely wrong message. If you take a look at the items, the clothes are basically a selection of grey hoodies, sweatpants, white-washed jeans and white t-shirts.
Zara has always been a very minimalist retailer, which is why I’ve been a big fan of their clothing, however, without writing it, Zara almost says the only way to dress gender neutral is by wearing boring athleisure. In fact, I think it’s almost insulting to athleisure to use that word to describe Ungendered. Zara does a disservice to the community they are catering to by once again saying their options are limited.
Let’s compare this to Ellen’s gender neutral line ED.
The difference is striking.
The Ellen line is vibrant and fun, but the items can effortlessly cross gender lines. Although each piece is modeled by a woman, it is very clear that they can be worn by men as well. This line says gender-neutrality is fashion and can translate.
In my opinion, gender neutral clothes are meant to be pieces that we see every day, but adapted slightly — especially in the proportions — for both men and women to enjoy. It’s meant to make the decision easy. A woman doesn’t have to feel out of place or self-conscious for walking into the “mens” section of the store or the other way around. One department for all people.
I don’t know if Zara is thinking about expanding their collection or if it’s even made any money, but if they are looking to move forward with Ungendered, they need to treat every item like universal pieces of fashion, not just boring basics.