The History of Unisex Fashion

The History of Unisex Fashion

"Yves Saint Laurent 1971, la collection du scandale"



Back in the olden days, there was a distinct difference between man and woman apparel. The trend reflected the patriarchal culture of the era. Women were identical with intricate and elegant dresses, showing that they should be passive and pleasant-looking. Men, on the other hand, could be active and comfortable with the clean-cut and loose cutting. Nowadays, we can see how the borderline has been blurry, especially with the unisex fashion hits the trend. The question is, when did it start, and how the transformation happened?


It All Started With Feminism


In 1824, the New Harmony community stirred controversy for allowing women to wear trousers like men. In the late 1900s, Amelia Bloomer, a women's rights advocate, introduced the bloomer pants to wear under a short dress. Unfortunately, all these progressive movements went under around the beginning of World War II. In this era, the differences in gender roles became strict all over again.


It was after World War II when people started making efforts again to break gender norms. The year 1968 marked the first time the term "unisex" appeared in the New York Times, referring to the Monster shoes that can go with any gender. The term appeared four times again in the same year.


This is when people started to accept the concept of genderless clothing. Stores offer denim outfits, family matching sets, and more various unisex apparel. Not only that women could wear a lady tuxedo, but even men started trying out less conservative looks with Edwardian shirts and skinny pants in playful colors and patterns.


This Time Will Most Likely Stay


Although the trend went sunset again in the 1970s, unisex fashion came back at it around the 1990s. Jeans, flannel shirts, poncho, knit caps, and combat boots were available in many clothing departments. Not only in the western world but even South Korea made the same breakthrough.


The trends of unisex clothing continued to grow up until today. Furthermore, even people started wearing clothes that are traditionally identical to their opposite gender. We have seen in Coachella 2015 where Jaden Smith appeared in a floral-patterned dress and a rose crown. There are also countless other similar examples.


There is no sign of declining. Instead, the campaigns of feminism and gender equality become stronger over time. The segment of gender-neutral fashion grows more and more in resonance. Even the market demands more variations of gender-neutral clothing, which leads to brands like Aemcy to born.