22nd March 2015:
Flying visit to London yesterday for the ‘Beyond The Rainbow’ conference so took an hour to go see what all the fuss was about over at Selfridges, where last week they launched the Agenda project – a new concept to finally de-gender, or genderqueer fashion.
Launched on March 16th, this bold new initiative by the retailer, really is seeking to push the boundaries of fashion in the 21st century, blurring distinctions between genders when it comes to clothing.
Genderqueer Fashion – a bold new world is coming
Agender is an exciting concept project. But never have I felt so intimidated by a shop. In fairness the staff were lovely, many of the clothes were lovely … but ….
The collection is very avant garde and very fashiony – these are designer pieces so mostly around a grand. The clothes in the edit collection are mostly in paper bags which adds to the mystique they are creating. I did spot a lush jacket by Faye Twogood (£500) and a couple of pieces by Yohji Yamamoto (£800 a piece) … nope, didn’t come home with them. But, if I needed something formal they had distinct possibility.
The collection is hosted in two sections on floors 1 & 2 – floor 1 is younger, more street – sweatshirts and t-shirts with snazzy graphics, crop jackets, stuff like that. On floor 2 a more mature collection, older, wiser, more formal. Some of the designers featured in the edit are also on the main floors with their own sections.
The display is a little confusing at first – the clothes are hidden in paper covers. The assistant explained: “Presenting the clothes in paper bags with only a glimpse initially visible is part of the philosophy of being drawn to colour, fabric and feature before making an assumption about gender.”
For me it was slightly off-putting – it was part of what I found intimidating but from a ‘concept/arty/designery’ perspective I see what they were intending. The assistants are helpful though so if rummaging through the bags puts you off the staff can lead you to the useful places on the racks.
This jacket comes from the Rad Hourani unisex collection.
Selfridges Agenda project is an exciting concept because a main stream fashion outlet really is blurring the gender lines and has got new design talent which will hopefully filter down to the high street collections. And what was particularly lovely was several of the shop assistants working on that section are androgynous/genderqueer themselves.
So, yes this is designer fashion. Yes it feels scary expensive. Yes it is beyond most of our means. However – for those of us facing a formal event later in the year and stressing about how to look smart and not compromise gender/idendity, or for those who are fortunate enough to be able to buy one or two key pieces as a treat I’d say its worth a visit if you’re in London (or indeed Manchester as I’m told the collection is there too). For the rest of us, take heart in the idea that a blurring of gender lines in fashion has been a long time coming but a new zeitgeist is now finally emerging.
As Generation X increasingly embraces a more fluid approach to sexuality and gender, it feels like the visibility and acceptability of non-binary and genderqueer identities will increasingly become much more mainstream:
I think Selfridges could be on to something.
Watch the concept promo video here: