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Zara debuts ‘ungendered’ clothing range

A sign of wider social acceptance of non-binary identities, or just a clever rebrand of the word unisex?

Retail giant Zara have created an “ungendered” section on their website – featuring unisex basics including t-shirts, tracksuits and jeans modelled by both a male and female model and designed to be worn by any gender. The news was first reported by Bustle, who commented that the decision was evidence of “how progressive the beloved store is”, and that it “helps break down the idea that there are only two genders”. 

Non-binary gender identity is a topic that has been brought to the fore over the last year, with pop-cultural talking points including Jaden Smith’s decision to wear skirts (including in a Louis Vuitton womenswear campaign) and Miley Cyrus’s announcement that she self-defines as gender fluid. Thanks to the likes of Caitlyn Jenner, Hari Nef and Dazed cover star Jazz Jennings, transgender issues and rights are also in the spotlight.

Of course, the fashion industry has a long history of flirting with the rules of gender – notable examples include Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking suits for women, or the time Jean Paul Gaultier outraged editors in the 80s by sending men in kilts down his runway. More recently, Alessandro Michele has been hailed for his gender-fluid vision for Gucci – where boys are seen donning pussybow blouses and jewelled rings. 

However, many gender non-conforming individuals struggle with “an industry ill-equipped to deal with trans and nonbinary people”, as Dazed writer Sean Faye put it in a piece on shopping while trans. So – will Zara’s new move open up a more progressive way of seeing the shop floor? Or is it simply an on trend rebranding of unisex clothing – which brands like American Apparel have been doing for decades?