What does gender bending mean?
Online there are plenty of media mentioning issues about gender, but differently from the genderless trend, gender bending appears to be much more related to a social conscious attitude, rather than an aesthetic choice.
According to Wikipedia, it can be described as follows:

  • a form of social activism
  • defiance against stereotyped gender roles
  • reaction to homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and misandry

Therefore, in this case we refer to gender as something that ‘can be performed on purpose’.

YSL Tuxedo Suit. Photo by Helmut Newton

Yet gender bending it’s not the latest buzzed out phenomenon in the fashion industry.

Back in the Seventies, groundbreaking fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent were already pushing the boundaries of gender apparel over social norms, although this form of creative communication has intensified a eye-focus on women emancipation rather than gender equality.
What changes today is the explicit models’ attitudes, who intentionally pose for both female and male apparel, with the clear aim of representing both sexes in the name of equal opportunities and against any kind of prejudice that in real life would impact on work conditions.


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If for some the new role attained by these new type of testimonials like Jazelle, Elliott SailorsAndrej Pejic could actually be misunderstood, one must take into consideration what the advantages of a gender bending approach guarantee the industry, for a variety of non conventional reasons that involve both customers and employers.

First, if a model can work for/represent both sexes, for a company it means supporting and neutralizing not only the upstream creative process, but also reducing and homogenizing the entire production and create a new average size system that would fit both female and male bodies. In particular, it suggests a much more unisex line, that would soften size limits, and let one free to wear clothes without the doubt of thinking whether they are too large or too tight.

Secondly, gender bending models represent a medium towards multifaceted fashion shows hosting people who we are much more likely to meet in real life, rather than barely stereotyped models that look too thin and far away from our planet. This doesn’t mean that we are going to lose that elegant lightness that only statuesque beauties are able to manifest. Instead, it’s people who are converting the meaning of beauty itself, giving a fresh breeze to fashion events, which end up to transmit people powerful and multicultural vibes, as it happens when watching Vetements new collection presentations.

In addition, for a brand it means to involve a large amount of consumers that interact each others on social media platforms. In facts, shifting a male/female oriented production towards gender bending mix&matches signifies approaching a more relaxed and creative oriented idea of clothing as a mantra of fashion consumption, namely consumers will definitely abandon the idea of segmented apparel.