We recently sat down with Grazia to discuss why, as a sustainable brand, we have always believed in gender neutral design and why this is so important to our ethos.
We wanted to share our interview with them to bring to life why we built a sustainable brand on non binary values and the challenges that come with it!
Why is unisex/genderless clothing important to you?
The way we think about gender is changing, and in a recent study 30% of Gen Z identified as gender neutral. More and more the old framework of binary gender identity is being rejected, and we are seeing a move towards greater acceptance of gender as a non-defining term. So why should our clothes identify us in this way?
We are in the midst of a climate crisis and so it is now more prevalent than ever to focus on a more circular economy. The spotlight is on the fashion industry and the relentless over-production that comes from it. Gender neutral clothing allows us to minimise our binary gender collections and reduce the production of unnecessary garments, rather focusing on timeless pieces that can be styled by people of all genders and ages.
At Riley Studio we believe in individuality which is why we set out to design without gender in mind. Style knows no boundaries, and neither should we.
What barriers do you think some people feel around unisex clothing? And how would you reassure them to try it?
There are a lot of assumptions that gender neutral clothing won’t work for someone because it isn’t specifically designed for their body shape. But there really aren’t as many differences as people may think in the construction of a garment, and everyone’s body shape is different. By putting a name or a label on pieces of clothing leads to common misconceptions around who that piece is for.
There has been a growing trend for the ‘oversized’ look where we take a lot of influence from menswear and people are buying things such as ‘boyfriend’ jeans, so the appetite is there to experiment away from your own labels and to try pieces that are designed without gender in mind.
One way we try and reassure our customers is to have clear descriptions online of how we have designed the piece so that people can decide whether they might want to size up or down depending on how they want to style it themselves. We also offer free exchanges and returns so that people can feel comfortable trying on the items at home before committing to investing.
What issues do you have to address around fit?
Fit has always been a challenge for us as a gender neutral brand, particularly as we are trying to create design led pieces, rather than just focusing on offering the more relaxed loungewear styles. We come up against our toughest hurdles on pieces such as a more classic chino trouser, where the rise differs depending on the gender.
Whilst it is a challenge, we look at it as an opportunity to be innovative in our designs. It allows us to adapt traditional pieces with new clever designs that allow the piece to be versatile for all whilst putting the emphasis back on the individual as to how they wish to style that piece.
As a gender neutral brand we know fit is always an area of development which is why we prioritise it throughout the entire product lifecycle, continuously trying on our samples on all size ranges and genders to make sure we are happy with the progress. To help us develop this even more we have recently launched a programme called RS Insiders, giving us real customer feedback on our latest garments.