These Canadian Fashion Brands Are Breaking the Gender Binary

By Rebecca Benitez

 

It’s 2019, and gender stereotyping is becoming less and less prevalent in Western fashion. From androgynous fashion icon Prince, to Ezra Miller slaying in his gender bending photoshoots, and now Billy Porter’s tuxedo dress at the Oscars, the blurring of gendered clothing is finally getting the demand and recognition it needs. Designers have noticed, joining in on the identity dialogue by introducing gender fluidity in fashion. Designer John Galliano’s recent Margiela collection revealed at this years Paris fashion week was more than a performance of art. He emphasized in Garage that in his work he does not make clothes that look like it’s typically made for women or men, but clothes that fit and mold against the body so naturally through his cutting technique. He says, “It’s the most natural thing that a man could wear, apart from wearing nothing—it’s that liberating and light. So it’s a freedom of expression, of sorts, of one’s gender and sexuality.” With light fabric, rebellious diagonal cuts, trousers, heels and a peek of skin, the collection was unapologetically genderless and an expression of sexual liberation. Intrigued by the subversive trend, I wanted to see if there was any Canadian representation adding to the conversation and was pleased to find many brands that are currently in support of unisex, designing clothes that don’t place limits on one’s femininity or masculinity.

1.Muttonhead

(Photo by Muttonhead on Twitter)

 

Locally made in Toronto, Muttonhead is purely unisex. Their philosophy in fashion is not only neutrality in gender and ages, but a “slow” approach to design. Similar to good quality food cooked with patience and love as opposed to the fast food market today, Muttonhead’s aim is to give their products the same treatment that their customers deserve,  producing clothes that are life lasting, comfortable, but still phresh for people of all sizes and identities.

2. Frank and Oak

(Photo by FrankandOak)

In 2017, Frank and Oak released their “Pride And*” collection, which strives for inclusion and equality among all people in the LGBTQ+ spectrum. They take on an “and instead of or” mindset when it comes to their brand that celebrates unity of the people rather than a style catered to certain consumers. Their collection is in collab with Petites-Maines, a Montreal founded company for immigrant women that need help in social and job support. Their fabric is all cotton or embroidered fleece with price ranges starting at $5. Every purchase is sent directly to Equitas, another organization seeking for human rights and social justice across the globe.

3. Broke & Living

(Photo by Nicole Simmons on Twitter)

Founded by trio Charlene Akuamoah, Meghan Prosper and Nicole Simmons, Broke & Living’s edgy fashion breaks down gender and racial barriers to bring forth diversity as well as more female consciousness within the industry.  One of the ways they have shown versatility in their clothing is their tank top murder she wrote dress, modeled by a man and a woman styled in a simple poolside cover up to an additional layering piece.

“We often shop in the men’s department, so it’s just natural to us,” Simmons told Flare, “and that’s the way clothing should be.”

4. Latre Art + Style

(Photo by Kayla Rocca, featured on Toronto Life)

Latre Art + Style  is a unisex brand that promotes gender neutrality combined with specially made and chosen pieces from local artists that incorporate nature. Creative mind Brian Vu passion for military paraphernalia is largely represented in his collection, from combat jackets to denim. The boutique situated in the Junction does not function as a typical shop but also a creative studio and museum that showcases not only his own handmade clothing and accessories but his collab with work sourced from local Native American artisans as well as curated artifacts from all over Africa. Latre’s shop that can be accessed online here writes that these components of  “Indigo, military, Native, and African”(and unisex!) are what define Latre Art +Style.

5. Peace Collective

(Photo by Peace Collective)

P/C is proudly Canadian and proudly gender fluid, producing androgynous fashion for all kinds of people that celebrates the places we all call home. According to their website, “Canada is blossoming into a place where your sex and your gender don’t have to dictate the way you dress and express your uniqueness within this growingly diverse community.”

6. Untitled&Co.

(Photo by Untitled&Co on instagram)

Dynamic partners Cameron Wilson and Chloe Sam-McGrath have two stores in Toronto, placed in Queen West and Yorkville, that focus on unisex clothing. The clothes and accessories expresses their broad vision incorporating nostalgia for the 90s, pop culture, and digitally printed streetwear for Canadians that have a choice in gender and identity. Their clothes are bright and fun, but also have their share of minimalism, bringing a more adventurous and confidence in their brand that destroys limiting fashion barriers. Wilson explained to Post City Toronto that gender fluidity is the new modern dress, stating, “If I am going to wear something, my girlfriend is going to wear it.”

Each brand, with their own distinctive style and portrayal of their line all share the same message: gender norms have no room here. If you want to wear it, you should be allowed to wear it and that’s that. This is being realized through the growth of unisex clothes in the industry -- from small indie shops to famous designer labels and couture. So next time you’re shopping around, even if it’s a small pop up shop, try looking into the stores that support this game changing cause and don’t be afraid to look into the men’s or women’s aisle to wear something out of your comfort zone. Everyone can slay with a suit with heels.