The Phluid Project in New York City is world’s first gender-free store, which boasts of a collection of clothing that “rejects gender binaries”. As per Racked, this store has gender-free mannequins, gender-neutral bathroom and aisles full of clothes which cater to gender non-conforming and gender-fluid population. A part retail, part community space it is a revolutionary step in the apparel market, as it may not only change the way we shop but will also challenge gender-stereotyping. With increasing awareness about gender fluidity and increasing will among youngsters to break the mould, gender-free stores will help cater to all gender identities.
Imagine a clothing store which doesn’t have sections on the basis of gender.
It’s hard to do so for us, because we are conditioned to see clear, well-labelled segments for men’s and women’s clothing. But it’s not just the categorization of clothing on the basis of gender, which leads to stereotyping. The clothes available in each section have clear cuts and prints on them, which let you know, which section of the store you are in.
This makes the shopping experience for those who refuse to abide the gender binary difficult and humiliating experience. Just close your eyes and imagine the kind of looks a man would get if he wanders into the women’s section and decides to try on clothes. It’s tough when those who follow these binaries choose to judge those who don’t. But we do not need gender-free stores just for gender non-conforming or gender fluid population. We need them for everyone. Gender-free stores will help us finally put an end to gender stereotyping in clothing.
Ever since children are born, the society and peers force roles, colours and clothes on them.
Girls wear pink, boys wear blue. Girls must wear skirts and frocks with floral prints, while boys have to wear shorts and shirts with checks and strips. From the length of their hair, to their toys, we groom young children to stick to the conventional appearance, body language and choices. Even children who want to refuse many times stay silent, because of the fear of social and familial backlash.
Gender-fluid dressing will let both children and adults choose what they want to wear, instead of what society wants them to wear.
Gender-free stores will merge all labels and sections, and provide everyone with a shopping experience which is devoid of any inhibitions, judgement or gender nomenclature. It will help us challenge views of those who refuse to part with conventional gender roles and identities. Hopefully, we will see more store like The Phluid Project reject gender binary.
Also Read : We Need To Stop Defining Gender Fluidity And Sexuality
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own