During VOICES 2019, performance artist and designer Alok Vaid-Menon urged the fashion industry to ‘de-gender’ itself and reframe its definition of beauty. At this year’s edition of VOICES, BoF’s first physical gathering since the start of the pandemic, Vaid-Menon sat down with Harris Reed, a recent Central Saint Martins graduate who has emerged as one of the industry’s brightest rising stars and is vocal about pushing gender-fluid fashion to the mainstream. This year has seen several breakout moments for Reed, including dressing Harry Styles for the cover of Vogue and Iman for the Met Gala, as well as a major profile in the New Yorker and a powerful London Fashion Week debut.
Reed and Vaid-Menon spoke about concrete opportunities for industry stakeholders to de-gender fashion. While many fashion companies want to be seen working with gender non-binary people, few are baking their gender-free principles into their businesses beyond one-off collaborations.
“Companies want the aesthetics of LGBT communities but don’t really care about our lives. We’re always the moodboard,” said Vaid-Menon.
De-gendering, when it’s done right, works, according to Reed who wants to see brands and retailers stop dividing selling spaces into men’s and women’s, both online and off. He cited Black Friday sales of over $1.3 million for his partnership with jewellery brand Missoma.
“We’re creating art that people feel like they can live their lives [in] and be authentic [to] who they are,” said Reed at BoF Voices.
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