Over the past five years, there's been an industry wide obsession with "gender-less" or "unisex" apparel in fashion. Though people have been working in this way for far longer than that -- namely brands like Helmut Lang, Rad Hourani, and Telfar -- it really started to pick up recently. One of the latest brands to catch the bug: Converse.
When you think of it, Converse has long worked in the nebulous world of the unisex. The Chuck Taylor is probably one of the most gender-less shoes on the market, and has been since its release. But now, the company is launching a new apparel range called Shapes.
"What if apparel was built agnostic of gender, but rather intended to accommodate many different body shapes?" a release asks. "That is the question Converse sought to solve when looking to expand its apparel offerings." The result is a set of collections, the first of which launches this summer.
Shapes pieces are designed for body types and divided into four sizes. The pieces use construction techniques that allow them to adjust to a variety of bodies and are made from 50% recycled cotton.
"When starting design from a non-traditional place, there are endless opportunities to reimagine everything from construction to sizing to materials," says Jon Tappan, VP, Global Apparel at Converse. "SHAPES is the perfect example of how to meet the consumer in their element. By bringing functionality, inclusivity and comfort to everyday clothes, we believe we can really change the game."
While all of this sounds great, to be the most frank: the pieces don't look exciting. The thing about agnostic design is that it tends to look like the menswear basics we are all familiar with: t-shirts, hoodies, baggy pants. they are usually presented in monochromatic drab colors and marketed for all. There are little to no risks, and very little excitement. But if we're truly designing genderless, why aren't we taking these same principles to the more daring garments?
The Shapes collection with its Bubble Crew, Box Tee, Short Sleeve Tee, Triangle Front Chino and Triangle PO Hoodie, that rage from $25-$75 are fine. It's amazing that the designers took the time to do the work to add in pleats and gussets to really account for different body types -- a step that many before them overlooked. We'll probably buy some pieces!
But respectfully, we're going to save our excitement for when these same principles are applied to something a little more stimulating.