Fashion is a modern thing meaning it comes and goes. For a lengthy period of time, fashion has been labeled such that there is the fashion for men and for women. However, as time moves, and we get into the twenty first century, the conspicuous difference which existed between the female and the male trend is fading out constantly. Pieces were specifically worn by using men traditionally have developed into women fashion too whereas the woman fashion, on the other hand, has also penetrated deeply into male trend industry. It is therefore very evident that today, there are various roles which the reality of being a male or female by nature has played in both fashion and beauty industry (Longacre 2011, p.51). In this light, the paper specifically will examine various aspects of the broader topic such as; the how gender constructs have influenced fashion and beauty, fashion and gender equity, economic disparity across the genders and how this has played a role in influencing fashion, and the perception/view of fashion by different genders. These, therefore, are going to form the backbone of the whole discussion. Gender Constructs and its Influence on Fashion and BeautyPeople have always accepted who they are regarding gender. Similarly, they have always been so proud of their difference in modes and styles of expression (Longacre 2011, p.11). The big question, however, is why the genders are being blended with regards to fashion today? In the modern society, men are not so conscious or associated with makeup for example whereas, in the ancient times, kings, for instance, could smoothen their bodies or complexion using powder like what is seen today among women (Longacre 2011, p.11). In Egypt, men, women, and children could use either green or black kohl to cure eye diseases and to be appealing to their gods (Longacre 2011, p.62). Besides creating smooth complexion using powders, Longacre (2011) further explains that Kings, for example, Henry VIII wore elaborate gowns made from fur and very rich fabrics to exhibit their royalty. The idea of designer fashion emerged later in around 1850s when Napoleon III married his wife Empress Eugenie (Longacre 2011, p.33). She was aggressive about fashion. Eugenie worked with Charles Fredrick Worth who aggressively promoted fashion and the idea of customers buying garments made precisely from a designer’s vision (Longacre 2011, p.44). For this reason, Fredrick Worth was considered the father and pioneer of high fashion. The diversion to the designers making clothes consumers laid the foundation of the current day’s gender constructs since designers began telling each gender what they should be wearing and not the consumers deciding for themselves the types of clothes they should wear (La-Ferla 2015, p.72). As a result of this, the “us vs. them” mentality was formed in the apparel industry because designers only marketed specific pieces for respect gender (La-Ferla 2015; Mary 2015). Magazines like Vogue and Harpers Bazaar as well as department stores like Wannamaker, currently Macy’s sprang up as a consequence of a shift in men’s and women’s fashion (Mary 2015, p.64). These gave an avenue for designers to advertise their merchandise and show the consumers also where they could get their designer clothes. The emergence of department stores where clothes could be displayed widened further the gap between men’s and women’s fashions. Inside the department stores, there were different sections for women’s and men’s clothes which also had totally different arrangements. The emergence of modern culture led to haziness in men’s and women’s fashion. Women started demanding more practical garments as they entered the workforce. For instance, they started demanding for pants rather than poodle skirts. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent launched a garment for women advertised as “Le Smoking Tuxedo Suit” (Longacre 2015, p.41). The garment featured a blazer, bottom down blouse, and wide cut high-waist pants. Women flocked the tux to pick this garment because it made them look free, comfortable and practical; exactly what they needed since they had joined the workforce (Longacre 2015). These designer clothes maintained their femininity. By 1970s, the distinct androgyny between men and women started fading out again because of the same things both of them started doing together (Longacre 2011, p. 55). For example, men and women started keeping long hair and wearing bellbottoms. In fact, many believe that it was during this time that both men and women blocked their ears to what the society expected of them as different genders based on clothing and makeup. Men and women felt free and expressed themselves regardless of the expectations of the society. However, in the 1980s, the gender expression was damaged by the epidemic of HIV/AIDs (Longacre 2011, p. 42). Similarly, the emergence of the homosexual lifestyle and the fear and embarrassment associated with it forced men to revert to their hyper-masculine style as a proof of their heterosexuality. So it is evident that lifestyle and emergence of epidemics in the early 1980s caused a shift from what the society seemed to have accepted about fashion and beauty where men and women almost wore the same styles and kept long hair. In the modern world, there is no clear distinction between males’ and females’ fashion (Longacre 2011, 53). Both of them have appeared to be wearing almost similar wears. In the last ten years, designers have been making garments which are slim-fitting for both males and females. A female today can borrow a jeans trouser from a male friend and wear it very comfortably without anyone noticing the trouser is not feminine. To support this, an article was written in the New York Times about males who were wearing female’s heels near a club in Los Angeles (Sut 2011, p.81). This shows the shift which has been noticed in the recent days regarding what men wear but regarded as females garments and vice versa.The Link between Unisex Fashion and Gender EquityWhenever artists depict the future either in films or writing, regarding gender roles and equity, they tend to do so using clothing which is almost similar among the different genders in their works of art (Goffman 2009, p.35). For example, in most cases, filmmakers will mostly use leather coats and sunglasses. Considering the imagined future of clothing among women and men, one of the characteristics of this imagination is that there should be a break from the gendered clothing to be replaced by a more functional and utilitarian (Goffman 2009, p.57). Futurists believe that gender is an artifact of very less-progressive past. The big question to ask is; when is this future? Is the future now? In the recent days, fashion houses like Gucci have resorted to selling gender-neutral clothes. The New York Times and The Guardian Magazines have all covered the stories and shown various pictures of gender-neutral clothing being sold at the Gucci fashion house. However, there are a number of issues which should be considered before people can start celebrating about a world of post-gender fashion. First is the issue of marketing and secondly the actual progress towards gender equality. Designer fashion emerged later in around 1850s when Napoleon III married his wife Empress Eugenie (Longacre 2011, p.43). She was aggressive about fashion. Eugenie worked with Charles Fredrick Worth who aggressively promoted fashion and the idea of customers buying garments made precisely from a designer’s vision It is true fashion can be used to bring about a social change especially awareness about gender equity. However, quite often fashion will take advantage of the social movements, increasing their aesthetic value as a means to seem anxious and end up with a profit. These are factors which must, therefore, be looked at keenly before we can together raise a toast and say enough is enough with gendered clothing.Subcultures and FashionPlacing fashion into its historical context is the only way to understand it properly. No one can actually understand fashion outside the societies which give them meaning. Additionally, understanding fashion is made easy by connecting to the industries that design and markets them (Goffman 2009, p.39). There is a long and rich history of different communities in the world which show that gendered clothing has been blurred as a way of promoting gender equity and freedom from sexual roles. For example, the New Harmony utopian society allowed men and women to wear trousers (Goffman 2009, p.56). During that period, it was shameful to allow women to wear trousers but that was a representation of their vision of gender equality in their society. Later in the 19th century, Amelia Bloomer fought for the women to be allowed to wear pants called bloomers under their short dresses (Sut 2011, p.49). With the introduction of Hip-Hop music in the 1980s, both female and male break-dancers wore tracksuits when dancing and this further blurred the gender roles for the physical ability shared between males and females like dancing (Sut 2011, p.41). These examples took place outside the fashion industry. It is a clear show that people can actually adapt and remix the different clothes that are at their disposal to fashion new styles. This according to Claude Levi-Strauss is called “bricolage”. Motives of the Fashion IndustryContrary to what is known, whenever fashion industries promote unisex clothing, they are aimed to make money and no promotion of gender equity (Mary 2015, p.29). Although today’s fashion industry appears like a benchmarking for equality between genders, it is almost unrealistic because these industries are more profit oriented than promoting gender equity (Mary 2015, p.33). Fashion industry trades on the notion of aesthetics together with exoticism and to realize the two, in many occasions, designers have always exploited the oppressed in the society. For instance, in the year 2010, Haute Couture introduced a line of clothes and even cosmetics which were targeting women mainly victims of gender-based violence along the US-Mexico border (Mary 2015, p.45). These women who were never paid properly for the hard and odd jobs they did became the targeted consumers of the very expensive products of this company. It is almost impossible to assume that fashion industries can change their motives to embrace more awareness creation about gender equality using their designer unisex clothes (Mary 2015, p.71). Instead, they are more pulled towards making bigger profits with an overshadowed claim that they are promoting gender equity.ConclusionFashion and beauty are an indispensable part of the world today. Moreover, fashion is trendy and never long lasting. New fashions emerge and the old ones fade away like daylight when dusk comes. Fashion is a scenario where people speak to their environment. There are people who are so attached to fashion and would do all it takes be flow with the most current trends of designer’s clothes and makeup. Fashion has been influenced by a number of factors and the most prominent among them is gender roles. There has been a shift in fashion recorded in history about how fashion has changed to take care of the societal ideologies for instance of gender equity. For example, women in the workforce were allowed to wear pants which seemed more comfortable. Additionally, societies also allowed women to wear trousers like bloomers to show the equity between them and men and to liberate them from gender roles. There are various roles which the fact of being a male or female by nature has played in both fashion and beauty industry (Longacre 2011). In this light, the paper specifically will examine various aspects of the broader topic such as; the how gender constructs have influenced fashion and beauty, fashion and gender equity, economic disparity across the genders and how this has played a role in influencing fashion, and the perception/view of fashion by different genders. The history of people and the motives of the industries are important aspects when trying to understand the fashion and what it means to the people. Fashion industries promote unisex clothing; they are aimed to make money and no promotion of gender equity. Although today’s fashion industry appears like a benchmarking for equality between genders, it is almost unrealistic because these industries are more profit oriented than promoting gender equity.ReferencesGoffman, E. (2009). Gender Advertisement. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University PressLa-Ferla, R. (2015). In Fashion, Gender Lines are Blurring. The New York Times; Fashion and Style https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/20/fashion/in-fashion-gender-lines-are-blurring.html Longacre, Mark (2011). Gender Constructs Influence Fashion World. The Temple News Magazine.Mary, R. (2015). Can we tie unisex fashion trends to gender equality? The Conversation Magazine. Sut, J. (2011). The Codes of Gender. Media Education Foundation.
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