Breaking Gender Barriers: Ethical Menswear for Everyone
Androgynous, gender-fluid, gender-neutral, and gender bending are just a few of the ways the latest menswear fashion trends are being described. And whether it’s a way of life for you, or you’re simply experimenting with a new style, these designers have made it their mission to create something for everyone, regardless of gender or identity.
My own foray into menswear actually started way back in middle school – I preferred baggy khakis and vintage oversized men’s button downs riddled with abstract patterns to the curve-hugging feminine wares that I opted for just a couple of years later. And for reasons unknown, I escaped ridicule for my clothing choices, or was oblivious to such ammunition at the time, and was able to experiment generally judgement-free. Needless to say, the pendulum swung both ways, and has since landed somewhere very comfortable on the spectrum.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky as I was to have had the opportunity to experiment without the bullying and shaming that often accompanies anything outside of what society deems “normal.” But with the emergent positive media coverage of transgender people, gender fluidity, and androgynous fashions, these small victories are shaping the future for a less hostile world. Fortunately, there are a few great designers already at the helm of such gender-neutral fashions and they’re specializing in menswear – some that’s even fabricated to fit the female body proportionately – so let’s take a look at a couple of these trendy trailblazers.
After deciding to “join the movement that rejects traditional stereotypes and gives people the freedom to be their true selves,” Kirrin Finch was realized. As the brainchild of two women who share the desire to bring menswear designed to fit the female form, coupled with clothing that is also ethically-produced using materials like organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles, this team is making their mark in the LGBT community and beyond.
The fledgling company, established in 2015, already appears to be off to a great start, both in terms of intention and design. Laura Moffat and Kelly Sanders Moffat, the owner-operators, were tired of the either too baggy or too tight appearance of the button downs available on the market, not to mention the hyper-feminine look of most pieces, which they were trying to avoid. And stemming from that obvious need, the Kirrin Finch shirt was honed into what it is today. With attention to increasing the bust and removing the girly details like darting, the shirts are designed to fit like a glove.
Make these button down tops work for summer by rolling up your sleeves and pairing them with Bermuda length shorts and boat shoes or sandals. If it’s really warm, then wear it unbuttoned layered over a thin tee or tank. These would also work great paired with khakis in a business casual setting, for a brunch date, or as a wedding guest.
Brave GentleMan’s latest collection is showing the versatility of the company’s menswear by using women as the muses in a recent photo shoot for the seasonal campaign. This, however, is completely the norm when it comes to this business’s budding clientele. The owner, Joshua Katcher, informed Ecouterre that it is not uncommon for the company to receive requests from women for the menswear to come in ladies sizes. And with the acceptance of androgyny expanding, it only makes sense for Brave GentleMan to include customers from all walks of life. Specializing primarily in tailored designs that would be perfect for the office, cocktail, or evening out, these blazers, trousers, shoes, tops, and more, will have you looking dapper no matter the occasion. What’s equally as impressive, though, is the company’s serious dedication to sustainability and the inclusion of unique vegan materials.
With the idea that “ethical fashion is not an aesthetic,” but rather a “methodology,” Brave GentleMan does not believe animals should be used in fashion production, and therefore opts to use materials such as vegan “future-wool,” made from recycled cotton and polyester, “future-silk,” made from recycled water bottles, and “future-leather,” a high-tech microfiber that is EU-Ecolabel Certified. The gender-bending biz even goes so far as to have buttons made from corozo (tagua nut) and uses low-impact dyes. The company’s employees receive fair living wages and while also taking care to remember adjacent ecosystems during manufacturing.
Make these separates work for summer by layering for the office – wear a shell under your blazer for easy removal to and from the office or meeting. If you’re heading out on the town, team a set of trousers with a sexy fitted tucked-in tank and a pair of heels for a menswear-inspired outfit that still features feminine flair.
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Image of Models via Brave GentleMan
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