Selfridges Challenges Traditionally Gendered Shopping with the Agender Project

photos of Nicopanda from WWD

Selfridges will be hosting a six week, non-gender specific shopping experience from March 12 until the end of April. The project includes a capsule collection from Nicolai Formeccetti called Nicopanda, which will be sold in Opening Ceremony stateside. The shop will also include pieces from directional designers such as Gareth Pugh, Nicopanda, Body Map, Rad Hourani and Ann Demeulemeester.

Substituting androgynous mannequins in lieu of gendered ones, the store will feature gender-neutral outfits. Selfridges’ is also hosting photography, music, film and designs which represent the theme online and in store.

Recent years have seen inclusion of trans models in major catalogues, magazines and ad campaigns; gender identities continue to be a present and oft discussed theme, especially in the fashion world. According to Linda Hewson, Selfridges’ creative director, this is not simply an attempt to be on trend.

“[We are] tapping into a mind-set and acknowledging and responding to a cultural shift that is happening now. The project will act as a test bed for experimentation around ideas of gender — both to allow our shoppers to approach the experience without preconceptions and for us as retailers to move the way we shop fashion forward.”

A glimpse of the future of retail, or so we can hope!

The Agender Project will be available in at the Oxford Street, Birmingham and Manchester stores, as well as online.

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Lydia Okello is a feminist, body positive, queer personal style blogger. On her website Style is Style, she showcases her panache for bright colors and power clashing. When she isn't pawing over Samantha Pleet collections on Tumblr, she's dreaming about havin' a kitten of her own one day. You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr and on her personal blog.

Lydia has written 64 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. Bored with the fashion industry and deification of slim/male-coded bodies as androgyny, excited with what people are going to do with this. (A friend and I were browsing Romwe and mused out loud about how weird the clothes look when not worn by the fashion brigade of tumblr. Actually we said it in a much more pointed way.)

  2. Having looked at the limited slideshow and especially at the photos in this article, I’m not sure how this is different from any other so far. Hopefully I will be proved wrong because I would love to see something like this.

    The photos in the article still look pretty binary to me – one with long hair, makeup, a dress, frilly headband and nail varnish. The other with close cut hair, no makeup, tailored shorts and a polo shirt. The only item that seems to challenge anything (slightly) is the frilly hat. But meh.

    Not that I want to make any assumptions about how the models identify, of course.

    I am currently exploring my own gender and find myself identifying more and more with the term agender. Although I am still learning a lot about gender, this campaign doesn’t really seem that ‘neutral’ (although that’s not what agender means to me personally anyway).

    • The photos attached to this article are simply press photos from one of lines that will be included in the project. I agree 100%, the initial images are disappointing in their representation of said “non-gender specific” clothing/imagery etc, but I’m excited to see what the final project looks like. Perhaps I’m naive, but this feels like a push in a better direction. Time will tell, I suppose.

  3. As an agender kiddo myself, I’m not sure how I feel about equating/connecting the terms agender and androgyny. I understand that gender “neutrality” is one interpretation of being agender, but it’s not how I identity, or how I present. Still like the idea though, and I’m interested to see what becomes of the project.

  4. I love the idea of a shopping experience, especially an online shopping experience which is my ideal way to shop, where the clothing isn’t separated into men/women categories! THAT seems exciting.

    So far, it’s really hard to tell how far they will push androgyny with their models. It could be exciting,it could (probably will) be a let down.

    However, I’m excited about a genderless online shopping experience, even though I think they are not (currently) adding enough diversity in terms of models.

  5. Haven’t looked at this particular endeavor by Selfridges, but I did want to add something. When I worked at Selfridges for a few years, they were the most open place in regards to gender presentation. My boss identified as male and wore mini-skirts, took hormones to have the breasts he wanted, had a shaved head with one pink curl, and fabulous platform boots. My favorite moment was my very straight cis-gendered coworker complaining about talking with him because he was “so boring”. It made me so happy that she didn’t even consider his presentation in her reaction, just who he was, and what he spoke about (mortgages, and other grown-up stuff she was not interested in).
    I worked at a make up counter, and both staff and clients ranged along the whole gender spectrum.

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