Guest fashion blogger Beth Kennedy.
The high street chains are slowly but surely upping their game when it comes to gender-neutral clothing. But there are also a growing number of indie retailers offering a wide range of gender-neutral clothing which are a good place to shop for androgynous clothes which fit female and male bodies. So where you can shop judgement-free, ethically and responsibly when it comes to gender-free clothes? Here are a few up and coming indie retailers who are readily embracing slow fashion, as well as providing label-free clothing...
For those who prefer a more masculine style, but whose feet are smaller than men's shoe makers smallest size, Tomboy Toes could be the answer. I prefer “men’s” shoes myself because they’re more durable and I prefer the general range of styles available. I am lucky that I have wide feet, so they fit me really well! However, women who are not “blessed” with swimmer’s feet can struggle to find the perfect fit when it comes to masculine footwear. This is where Tomboy Toes steps in. The indie retailer stocks a beautiful collection of smart shoes from Oxfords to wingtip brogues and boots. The website itself says “The company’s mission is to make sure women, trans men, nonbinary people and anybody else with smaller feet never again have to settle for shoes that are only kind of what they want. You deserve better.” You do deserve better - head to their website to check out their latest offerings!
As a woman with a masculine taste in clothes (albeit rather camp!), I tend to shy away from skirts. Sure, they are very comfy and look cool but they’re just not practical enough for me...until I discovered Skirtcraft. This indie retailer specialises in practical skirts with big pockets for all genders. No matter who you are, these skirts are guaranteed to make you look majestic and nothing short of it! Just look at the models on the website - they’re just living their best life. Skirtcraft has been heavily featured in press around the world, but don’t let the “skirts for men” stories put you off. The skirts truly are for everyone. What I love about these skirts is they have the amazing ability to look smart for work and equally just as at home on a hiker!
Agender, in my personal opinion, is perfect for grunge style. Their current collection reminds me of a mix between K-Pop boy bands and Kurt Cobain. Think slouchy striped jerseys, bright and zany colours, Oxford-cloth long-sleeved polos, bum bags (fanny packs to the Americans) and just the general zeitgeist of a young Generation X in Mad Fer It Manchester and Sub-Pop Records Seattle. I can never find a standalone site for Agender, so I had to make do with a link to W Concept (they still use category titles such as “Men” and “Women” but they introduce the public to independent designers - swings and roundabouts.
Apart from the beloved GFW (of course!) I love the styles from Dapper Boi, especially the chinos and jeans. I’m always on the lookout for the unicorn of jeans and trousers - a straight-leg almost skinny-fit made from hard-wearing materials but with room for my belly, thighs and hips. Basically I want a certain style of “boyfriend-fit” jeans but without the stupid marketing that goes along with it. Imagine if retailers started marketing “lesbian jeans” - there would be uproar from middle England! Anyway, the size and cut of Dapper Boi clothing is impressive. Just take a look at their size chart - it’ll make you feel the most body-confident you’ve felt in a while! This is because they take into account that people can be all sorts of shapes and sizes.
For example, in the men’s department of most shops I would have to get an XXL shirt or pair of trousers. Guess what I’m classed as according to Dapper Boi? A medium...and that’s based on actual measurements rather than vanity sizing. This goes to show just how inclusive many gender-free brands are and the exclusivity of nearly all high street brands. I’d rather shop gender-free every time.
A nostalgic brand inspired by life in the Canadian West, the founders of Flannel Foxes grew up camping and exploring Canada’s western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, carrying a deep appreciation for what those lands have to offer. Part of the 'new wave tomboy movement', it's a very outdoor branding boasting of bringing high quality, well designed, practical clothing.
This article wouldn’t be complete without GFW Clothing - I may sound a little biased but this is a brand we all know, love and trust (it’s probably why you’re reading this right now)! GFW work incredibly hard to get the word out there about not only their own clothing range, but also like to support other gender-fluid clothing companies. That might be through social media or hosting them as a supplier on their website - something I really admire in a company...the ability to see past profits and competition, and work together to change the clothing retail industry.
GFW offers a jaw-dropping range of awesome items including shirts (short and long sleeved, T-shirts, underwear, gym wear, PJs, bow ties, beanies and more). Apart from the classic penguin shirt, my personal favourite from GFW is the Petrol Blue beanie. I bought it a few years ago, worn it loads and it still looks brand new. To me that just goes to show GFW’s commitment to slow fashion. I used to have to buy a beanie per year because they always fell apart or stretched out - but I can see my GFW beanie lasting until I hit pension age.
It’s also worth checking out the Last Chance section of their website, as you can find bargains on all your favourite GFW Clothing lines. Not only are they constantly growing their range of clothing and accessories, they also run a pre-loved shirt group for people who may not be able to wear their GFW clothes because of changes in their weight.