Beyond Optics: The Business of Androgynous Men’s Fashion—Does it Sell or Merely Captivate?

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The concept of androgyny, historically rooted in the amalgamation of masculine and feminine traits, has evolved in contemporary discourse. Beyond its traditional gender-centric boundaries, it now spans diverse facets of life, including gender expression, sexuality, and fashion choices. This evolution is evident in fashion runways where men’s fashion grace women’s collections, featuring the likes of Doublet, Lemaire, Blumarble, and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. Simultaneously, menswear takes inspiration from womenswear, exemplified by designers Ludovic de Saint Sernin and Egonlab, as well as fashion giants like Saint Laurent and Fendi. This shift reflects a broader societal embrace of fluidity and inclusivity, transcending traditional norms and paving the way for a more diverse and expressive fashion landscape.

Androgyny transcends the confines of a fleeting trend; it represents a profound societal shift. Historically, the fashion industry has rigidly adhered to a binary representation of gender roles, demarcating clothing into categories of women’s and men’s fashion. Despite occasional forays into gender fluidity within high fashion, societal norms and well-meaning, yet sometimes intrusive, sales practices have actively reinforced these binary distinctions. Shoppers are often directed toward sections aligning with their perceived biological sex, inadvertently perpetuating a divide in the fashion landscape. Androgyny challenges these ingrained norms, advocating for a more inclusive and fluid approach to personal expression through fashion. It’s a movement that goes beyond the runway, challenging societal perceptions and reshaping the dialogue around how we perceive and interact with clothing.

The approach to navigating the male demographic

The approach to navigating the male demographic in India reflects a strategic and nuanced understanding of the market. Recognizing the challenges faced by brands confined solely to the LGBTQIA+ category, he aimed for a broader narrative transcending these boundaries. Instead of overtly proclaiming acceptance, they adopted a subtler, more inclusive approach to convey the brand’s message.

The success of this strategy is evident in the diverse consumer base, where approximately 60% to 55% of Vulgar’s customers are women. In comparison, 45% are men, based on data from both the current and previous years. This shift speaks to the brand’s adaptability and highlights the evolving attitudes and openness of the male demographic toward embracing fashion that goes beyond traditional gender norms.

In the dynamic world of menswear fashion, the concept of androgyny serves a dual purpose, according to Mumbai-based celebrity fashion stylist and costume designer Akshay Tyagi. It can be a remarkable fashion moment, pushing boundaries and challenging norms, or a savvy business endeavor. However, these two objectives are not always aligned, as the reception of androgynous fashion varies across different parts of the world.

The Highlights

Tyagi highlights the importance of a global understanding of the menswear fashion landscape’s unique nuances. What may resonate in America might not be universally applicable, leading to potential confusion in translating trends across cultures. Consuming global media and trends, one tends to assume that what works in one culture seamlessly translates to another. Tyagi provides a cultural example, emphasizing how a man wearing a sari in India might attract attention, not always positive, due to deeply ingrained cultural norms and perceptions. This insight underscores the need for a nuanced and culturally sensitive approach to introducing androgynous fashion in different regions.

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