A polysexual is someone who is attracted to multiple identities and genders. This is the type of term that one would expect to hear when they attend a college course on gender studies and sexuality. Although there are many polysexuals in the fashion industry it is not the most common term when it comes fashion trends. Recently, the genderless fashion movement has a new relative: Polysexual fashion.
Marc Jacobs, a fashion designer, is the first to make this transition into gender fluid fashion. Marc Jacobs has just released a collection of polysexual clothing called “Heaven”, which was inspired by teenage daydreams. This collection was inspired by Gen-Z’s fluid views on gender identity, sexuality and expression. This collection is not only a tribute to today’s queer youth, but also to Gregg Araki’s films, Mike Kelly’s sculptures, and Cindy Sherman’s work.
Polysexual is a person who is attracted by multiple gender identities. It’s all love, in laymen’s terms.
Jacobs’ latest collection isn’t targeted at any particular gender. Instead, it allows shoppers to create their own style. This is a niche product that is not as mainstream as the genderless fashion movement. It is more about being gender-free than dressing people who have multiple gender identities. FashionUnited asked Marc Jacobs for comment but he did not respond.
Fashion’s idea of fashion being free from gender norms is gaining momentum. Rob Garrett Smith, founder of The Phluid Project (a retail concept that promotes genderless fashion expression), has been one the most vocal supporters of this movement. Smith stated that fashion has been used as a platform to break binary constructs. “Looking at the polysexual fashion movement my thing is that I always try to remove any reference to sex from the conversation and make it about gender. I attempt to separate the words sex and gender. You are born with sex and your gender is part of who you are. In relation to clothing and expression, I prefer to avoid the term sex.”
Smith is thrilled to see Marc Jacobs, a major designer, create a collection that can be worn by anyone regardless of gender identity. However, Smith thinks anchoring a word about sexuality to the marketing language is a little misguided. Smith stated that confusing terminology can result from associating how you present yourself with being romantically or sexually attracted to someone. This is a huge leap. Smith said that he loves the idea of celebrating people who are polysexual because it opens up possibilities to have a relationship regardless of gender identity. Polysexual fashion sounds much more sexy than the term used to describe such clothes. It’s a great conversation starter. Gender-free fashion is the future in fashion, and it’s exciting for more brands to enter the space.
Fashion has been used as a way to rebel and stick it to the status quo for a long time. The genderless fashion movement was initially seen as a niche or a temporary trend. However, the movement has expanded to include fashion that is sexually fluid. The polysexual fashion movement, which is outside the norm of commonly recognized sexual orientations, has created a new type of fashion.
Although the term polysexuality is still relatively new in fashion, designers are continuing to innovate and create an inclusive, sexually fluid aesthetic. The spring/summer 2020 collection of Underage, a London-based fashion brand, was seen as a rebellion against the idea of any object being defined as male or female. It was also loaded with symbolism that challenged norms of sexuality. Art School, a British brand, has also been trying to redefine queer style. Eden Loweth, the designer of Art School, wanted to create a collection that wasn’t so focused on binary gender codes and sexuality.
There are a growing number gender fluid brands and retailers in the United States. Audio Helkuik is a queer/trans designer who has a passion for leather. He set out to create gender fluid leather accessories by making every leather item to the customer’s specifications. Cilium (formerly TillyandWilliam) is another fashion brand at the forefront for two important conversations in fashion, gender fluidity as well as sustainability. Tilly d Wolfe (gender-neutral pronoun used), spent many years creating their brand to address both environmental and social issues. Their mission is to extend the wear life of clothing and show people how pieces can be adapted to changing tastes. Devonation is Devon Yan’s independent fashion label. It offers fashion-forward styles that can be tailored to suit any gender. There are many gender-fluid brands and retailers that continue to grow, even though it is only a small portion of the global fashion market.
Gender fluid fashion was a big hit at New York Fashion Week September 2019. DapperQ, a queer-style digital magazine, hosted a runway party that drew 2000 people to the Beaux-Arts Court of Brooklyn Museum. The show’s entire concept was that clothing should be accessible to all people, no matter who they love or what their identity is. This show is a must-see for LGBTQ+ designers who want to attract buyers and press attention. All designs are generously considered. It is not hard to fill a venue with 2000 people. These are numbers that young fashion brands would love to have. This is a testament to the increasing popularity and strength of the gender fluid fashion movement.
Gender fluid fashion is the future
Fashion is all about the next. With polysexuality now being discussed in a wider context about sexuality and gender fluidity it’s not surprising that fashion would be at forefront of the trend. There is very little media coverage of polysexual people at the moment, and this is often due to a lack of understanding.
Polysexuals are attracted to certain genders but not all. This allows for gender to be considered as part of a wider spectrum than just one gender. This is different from pansexuality, or attraction to all genders, and bisexuality that is associated with the traditional male and female binary system.
Fashion industry is trying to appeal to younger generations. Celebrating sexual and gender diversity can be a great part of their marketing strategy. The Advocate conducted a 2018 survey and found that 33% of Gen-Z identified as being something other than exclusively homosexual. This is the highest percentage of any generation. The hashtag for polysexuality is growing rapidly as more content creators create videos about polysexual identity and people. The hashtag is used in over 1,000,000 Instagram tags.
Marc Jacobs may have thought he was just trying to find a way to sell clothes. But, it seems like he has found his next frontier in gender fluid fashion. The polysexual fashion movement is a great conversation starter. It will encourage people to think about new ways to queer fashion and gender fluidity. One designer’s unique collection could become tomorrow’s block in the larger gender fluid movement.